Car accidents happen, even to the most careful drivers. After an accident, no matter how minor or serious, it is common to freeze with shock, be dizzy with adrenaline, feel paralysed by embarrassment or be furious with the other driver.
The first thing you must do in a car accident? Stay Calm.
While it is common to become overwhelmed and confused, the post-accident process should be fairly straightforward and keeping calm and focused will be to your advantage to accurately document what occurred. The process after a car accident begins at the scene, making sure everyone involved is safe.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate what to do after a car accident:
Step 1: Check For Injuries
While staying calm is really the first step, once you have taken a few deep breaths, it is important to make sure no one is hurt. Start with a self-check. Due to adrenaline, you may be unaware that you are injured. Take a moment to check that you are not injured or trapped. If you are injured, call 101 for an ambulance. If you are seriously injured, try not to move and wait for emergency personnel.
After ensuring your safety, check on the well-being of your passengers. If there are no injuries, the police do not need to be called. Only if there are injuries the police should be called. You are obligated to file a report at the station within the next day or so.
Step 2: Survey Your Surroundings and Get To Safety
Whether you are injured or not determines whether this step is first or second. Assuming you are not too hurt to move, get to the side of the road. Survey the scene to make sure there is no continued danger. Look for smoke or a funny smell coming from your car and likewise, check if there are any fallen power lines, leaking gas or other potential risks. If your car is safe to drive and is causing a hazard where it is, move it to the side of the road. Otherwise, leave it and get yourself to safety. If possible, turn on your hazards and set up your road safety reflector triangle 100m before the accident. When standing on the side of the road, you need to wear an emergency reflector vest and stand away from the road in a safe place.
Step 3: Assess and Document Damage and Swap Details
If everybody is safe and you are able to leave the car, take the time to look at the damage to your car and, if relevant, any other cars involved. It is important to always exchange contact, insurance, and identification information. Make sure to take down the other driver’s name, ID number (teudat zehut) and insurance information.
We recommend that you try to document as many details as possible. A smartphone is very useful for this as you can take pictures of the damage to your car immediately. You can also take this opportunity to take pictures of the other car’s license plate number, the general positioning of both cars, and anything else which will be useful to remember for the future. Make a note of what you remember happening and include information about where the accident took place – an intersection, traffic circle, etc., what lanes each car was in and whether there was a red light or stop sign that may have been ignored. Remember, your body may still be full of adrenaline and you may be in shock, so your memory may be lacking. It is good to have tangible documentation to refer back to for details you may have missed at the time. If you don’t write everything down at the scene of the accident, it is recommended that you write down all the details as soon as possible so no important information is missed.
Step 4: Call Your Insurance Agent
You should call your insurance agent as soon as possible to start the claim process. As long as you are not injured, it is important to not leave your vehicle unattended or drive it away from the scene of the accident if it is unsafe to do so. If your car needs to be towed, it is important to refer to your policy for roadside assistance and towing information. Alternatively, your agent will be able to assist you. However, it is a good idea to save the contact details for the towing company in your phone in case the accident occurs on the weekend or at night and your agent is not available. Once you have all the relevant information, it is permissible for you to leave the scene of the accident.
What Not to Do After a Car Accident
Sometimes knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what steps to take. If you are involved in a car accident, here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t flee the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident could result in criminal charges.
- Don’t admit guilt. While Israel has established a “No Fault System”, when exchanging information, avoid making statements that could be construed as an admission of guilt on your part, even if you think you are at fault. Also, do not sign anything without first obtaining an explanation from your insurance company.
- Don’t place blame. Avoid accusing the other driver of being at fault. Be polite and courteous. This is not the time to point fingers even if the other driver is upset. This is an issue for your respective insurance companies.
A car accident can leave even the most seasoned and safe driver confused and in shock. The key to dealing with a car accident is awareness, diligence, and knowing your options. Follow these steps, review the benefits of your insurance plan and know what is expected of you to navigate this process to help protect you from unnecessary worry. That way you can focus on getting your vehicle repaired quickly and smoothly.
Drive safe, but know that accidents happen to even the safest drivers so make sure you are covered by Goldfus Insurance. Contact us today to review your car insurance or to let us help you pick the best auto insurance for you. Nesiya tova!