Getting into a car accident is one sure way to ruin your day. One moment you’re driving along without a care in the world, and the next you’re on the side of the road wondering how to get home with a crying kid in the back seat. It’s an unpleasant experience and one that we all try to avoid.
In many cases, the hardest part about getting into a car accident is figuring out what to do. Car accidents are shocking, and you may find yourself sitting in your car at a loss for what to do next. So, whether you’re currently sitting in your broken car and wondering what you should be doing, or you’re just curious what to do should you ever find yourself in this situation, here’s what you should do if you’ve just been in a car accident.
Make Sure You and Your Kids Are Okay
First things first – make sure everyone is okay. Take a second to check yourself for any cuts or bruises, or any other pain you might be experiencing. If you’re good to go, check on your kids next. Hopefully everyone is okay and more surprised than anything. If this isn’t the case, you’ll want to attend to your kids right away – either to calm them down or provide medical assistance.
Get to a Safe Place
Once you’re sure everyone in the car is okay, the next thing you’ll want to do is get to a safe place. Car accidents often happen in the middle of the road or on a busy highway, and this is no place to handle the next steps. You’ll want to do everything you can to get yourself and your kids to a safer location.
This might mean simply pulling over to the shoulder on the side of the road. In some cases there might be smoke coming from your car, in which case you’ll want to get everyone out and move a safe distance away as quickly as you can. Check your surroundings, watch for oncoming traffic, and get everyone to a safer spot before proceeding.
Call for Assistance
Next, you’ll likely need to make some calls. This could be the police, so that they can come fill out an accident report. Or maybe someone was injured, in which case you’ll also want them to send an ambulance. Some other people you may want to call are – a tow truck to transport your car, a family member to come give you a lift, or a taxi to get you to your next location. Luckily, most of us are carrying smartphones these days, so you should be able to look up any number you need and give them a quick call. You’ll want to call these people as soon as you can, as they can often take a little while to get there, and you can perform the next steps while you wait.
Swap Information with Other Drivers
If other drivers were involved with the accident, now is the time to start exchanging information. You’ll want to get their name, phone number, insurance information, license plate number, and the make/model of their car. Jot all of this down on a piece of paper, or save it somewhere in your phone. The other driver will likely want the same information from you, so be sure you have it at the ready.
Once you’re finished with this, consider taking some pictures of the accident. Pull out your phone and snap some pictures of your car, other cars involved, and the surrounding area. You may need these for your insurance or in case of a lawsuit, so the more pictures the better.
For more information, here is a post-accident checklist you can use.
Take Care of Yourself, Your Kids, and Your Car
That’s all you need to do right away for an accident, but an accident impacts your life in other ways going forward. You’ll need to get your car repaired, handle any medical issues that came from the accident, and work on helping your kids through the aftermath. In some cases, the accident may have been so bad that the car is now totaled. When your car is totaled there is nothing you can do to save it, so now you need to spend time finding a new ride.
If you’re lucky, this entire process will only be a minor inconvenience in your life. Accidents range from annoying to catastrophic, so consider yourself lucky if you only come out of it with a few dents in your car. Hopefully this guide was able to give some clarity on what to do if you’ve been in an accident and will make your life a little easier in the immediate aftermath.