How to be Prepared for a Car Accident

Car accidents are things that we are rarely completely prepared for. Sure most of us have car insurance which helps cover most of the financial liabilities but there are circumstances that can make the situation far more complicated than it already is. Most accidents have the potential to turn into a very messy court case and sometimes the immediate shock of the accident can make you forget to do some very important things assuming you’re physically okay. Fortunately, Lifehacker put together a great list of things to do to prepare for an accident before it happens.

Make a Cheat Sheet – You should make a checklist for yourself for steps that you should take in the event of an accident and keep it in your glove compartment. Things that you should get from the other driver in an accident are the other driver’s name, license plate number, telephone number and insurance carrier so write these down so you don’t forget to a crucial piece of information.

Have a Camera phone, Pen, and Paper – Keeping a pen or pencil and paper in your glove box will make it easy to exchange information with the other driver. Having a camera phone handy is extremely useful for taking pictures to document the scene of the accident and things like the other driver’s license plate in the event they refuse to share information. Having photos of the scene will dramatically help your case if there is a dispute with your insurance company or with the other driver in court.

Write Down Everything – When you’re still at the scene, write down every detail you can think of about the accident. This includes things like the date and time, the street and location, make and model of the other car, a physical description of the driver, and any damage done to the vehicles. This will help you immensely if the other driver leaves the scene of the accident and will help you immensely if it ends up in court.

Approach Witnesses – If there were any witnesses to the accident still around, approach them and take down their contact information just in case.

Review Your Insurance – The time to make sure you know what your insurance does and doesn’t cover is before you need to file a claim. Collision protection is necessary for insurance to cover fixing your car while underinsurance will cover you if the other driver is uninsured and can’t pay the damages that he or she is liable for. Reviewing your insurance policy beforehand will help prevent any nasty surprises when you need it most.

Stick Around – Stay at the scene of the accident until the Police arrive and they say you can leave. Though the exact state laws differ, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime that you can be charged with if you leave early. If you’re not doing anything that is otherwise illegal, you have absolutely nothing to gain from leaving the scene of an accident.

Drive Safely – This bit is obvious but you can greatly reduce your chances of getting into a crash by doing some fairly simple things. Don’t text and drive. Don’t drive under the influence of any controlled substances. Don’t drive more than 10 mph over the speed limit. Slow down when driving in bad weather. Don’t drive aggressively. All of these things will greatly reduce the probability of you getting into an accident and if you get into an accident while following that advice it will be far less severe.

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