Car Accident? Here’s What To Do
Car accidents, even minor ones, are anxiety-inducing even when there’s little to no physical damage to the vehicle or its passengers. Whether motorists are worried about insurance, medical care, or who to call in the event of an accident, having a game plan in case of an accident is essential. What information should the driver obtain from the other driver and witnesses? Does anyone need to go to the emergency room? Is an ambulance needed? What about the police? Is there a tow truck on its way to take any damaged vehicles to an auto repair shop? While every situation is unique, here’s a brief outline of what to do after a car accident.
What To Do Immediately After a Car Accident
1. Stop the Car
The first thing any driver should do when involved in a car accident is to stop the vehicle. Don’t block traffic if possible. If the car is drivable, safely move it off of the road. Instruct other motorists involved in the accident to do the same. If the accident happens on a highway, it may be illegal to obstruct traffic with a drivable car. Put the hazard lights on if the vehicle must remain in the roadway while waiting for emergency personnel or a tow truck.
Important: In the state of Oregon, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident without attempting to contact the owner of any affected property.
2. Call the Police
Once everybody is out of harm’s way, make sure to contact the local police department. If there are no injuries, make sure to contact the non-emergency number and report the accident to the dispatcher. If someone is injured, however, don’t call the non-emergency number. Call 911 to ensure a timely response from first responders. In Portland, the police only file a report if there are injuries. However, the police help you facilitate the exchange of information between all drivers and witnesses involved. Witness statements are useful when it comes to filing insurance claims.
3. Take Photos
Take pictures of the damage caused by the accident. Ensure that the weather and traffic conditions are captured in the photos, but a video of the scene is useful for insurance claims as well. Collect contact information for all witnesses.
4. Exchange Information With the Other Driver
Make sure to exchange contact information with the other driver (or drivers) involved in the accident. If able, take a photo of their driver’s license, registration, and insurance card. Make sure to write down the vehicle’s license plate number and the VIN (found on the dashboard of most vehicles). This information is critical when filing an insurance claim, especially if the other person is uninsured or improperly insured. Don’t say anything to the other driver to protect oneself against allegations of fault. Don’t admit responsibility for the accident. Filter all communication through the police if the situation is hostile.
5. Call the Insurance Company
Most insurance policies allow for their policyholders to file a claim for up to three years after the accident occurs. However, if there’s confusion about where to take the vehicle or how to get it there (if it needs a tow truck, for example), call Speed’s Auto Body. We can help! In Oregon State, you have the right to choose which repair facility you use. Here at Speed’s Auto Body, we work for you, not the insurance companies!
6. Call a Tow Truck and an Auto Body Shop (If Needed)
If the car has significant damage and needs to be towed to an auto repair shop, call a tow truck company. Members of AAA and other emergency roadside assistance services should call the customer helpline to get their vehicle moved. Otherwise, many tow truck companies have drivers on call 24/7 for reasonable prices. Call the auto body shop and let them know a car is arriving soon.
7. Document Everything
Keep copies of all photos, claims, and information collected after the accident. Be sure to document any medical intervention that occurs as a result of the crash, as well.
What To Watch Out For In the Days Following an Accident
Hopefully, no one involved in the accident needs medical attention or emergency intervention. However, adrenaline and other hormones circulated by the body can initially mask broader issues and significant pain. In these cases, a visit to the doctor may be required. Here are a few things to watch out for following an accident:
Injuries to the Head, Neck, or Spine
Even if the car accident seemed minor, injuries still occur due to the force of impact (even at low speeds). Even if none of the airbags deploy upon impact, drivers and passengers may still sustain head, neck, or spinal injuries as a result of the accident. Keep in mind the effects of shock, and what that heightened state can do to the body’s ability to feel pain. If a driver or passenger suffers from severe neck, head, or spinal pain, go to the doctor to rule out common injuries such as a concussion or a herniated disk.
If breathing is difficult or painful after a car accident, go to the emergency room. Trauma physicians have experience treating emergencies, and they will decipher whether the difficulty of breathing is due to a significant injury or not.
Bruises or Suspected Fractures
Minor wounds and simple fractures don’t always require an emergency room visit. However, bruises may show up days after the accident. Any significant pain that lasts more than a few days needs addressing by a medical professional.
How Can Speed’s Auto Body Help?
Speed’s Auto Body, founded in 1958, serves the Portland area with high-quality auto bodywork and collision repair. With highly trained and experienced staff, Speed’s Auto Body can take care of any auto body repair need! We have experience working with all of the major insurance providers and can answer any post-collision questions. Call today for an estimate!