4 Steps to Take if You Get in a Car Accident While Traveling

4 Steps to Take if You Get in a Car Accident While Traveling

You’ve been planning that road trip of beautiful places to see on Florida’s Gulf Coast for more than a year now. But what if you’re in a car accident while traveling? Here are four steps to prepare you in advance so that you can drive with confidence.

People First

Depending on the severity of the accident, those involved may be in shock or non-communicative. The most important thing to do immediately after an accident is to assess the scene for injuries and determine whether it’s necessary to call 911 for police or paramedics. State laws vary regarding police involvement in minor fender benders, but it’s best to err on the side of caution and call for assistance. If the accident is in a high traffic area where another collision could occur, make sure everyone is evacuated if possible to a safer area nearby while you wait for police and/or paramedics to arrive.

Other useful actions while you await assistance:

  • Turn on hazard lights if possible
  • If it is safe to do so, appoint someone to direct traffic away from the crash area
  • If an engine has been damaged, turn it off to avoid an engine fire
  • Ask if anyone has a roadside kit including hazard triangles and/or flares

Collect Information

While maintaining traffic awareness and safety precautions, take as many pictures of the scene as possible, including potential landmarks that can help determine the exact location of the scene, such as a mile marker or street sign. Exchange insurance information and determine if any other witnesses are available and willing to exchange information with you as well. If you are driving a rental car and you purchased rental insurance, review the instructions on your paperwork for how to proceed with the rental company.

It could be appropriate to call a lawyer depending on the severity of the accident. According to Moore Law, an auto accident lawyer in Mobile, AL, “Many insurance companies try to pay as little as possible or even deny valid auto accident claims. Do not give a statement to an insurance adjuster or sign anything without first seeking the counsel of an auto accident attorney.” If you proceed without an attorney, many insurance companies have mobile apps that allow claims to be filed right from your phone. Depending on state law, you may also need to provide the control number of the police report if one is available.

Post-Accident Logistics

Next you may need to arrange for a tow truck and a temporary vehicle if your insurance plan does not include these options. Some dealers provide convenient service rentals while your car is in the shop, and many dealers such as these VW dealerships in New Jersey also offer convenient leasing options, enabling you to continue your vacation while you wait for your insurance claim to be processed.

Be vigilant for unusual pain as some injuries become evident after the adrenaline and shock of the accident wear off.

Prevention is Key

While it’s best to always follow safe driving practices, an accident can reinforce the value of being prepared and focused while driving. A few more points to remember:

  • Have everything you need while driving at your fingertips (toll money, directions, etc.). If something drops out of reach, pull over to retrieve it.
  • If you’re drowsy, pull over in a safe area to rest.
  • Drive defensively and don’t tailgate: keep at least a two-second cushion between the vehicle in front.

Safe driving practices and careful preparation can help ensure that your next road trip is smooth.