How to stay calm after a car accident

Being involved in a car collision is always a horrible shock, and likely to leave you feeling stressed, anxious and even angry. Staying calm may be hard to do, especially in the heat of the moment when it’s easy to let emotions take over; but to stay level headed and in control of the situation is essential.

CONTROL YOUR ANGER

It’s easy to see why tempers flare at the scene of a car collision, especially if the accident wasn’t your fault, or you feel the other party is trying to hold you responsible. For example, you may believe that truck drivers who cause accidents have an obvious incentive to lie this may mean that if a truck hits your car, you feel angry and may get into an argument about whose fault the accident was. Arguing at the scene of the crash about who was to blame for the accident is only going to escalate the situation further, and should be avoided.

SAFETY FIRST

Car accidents can happen so quickly, one moment you can be driving along as normal, and the next minute everything changes. In the shock of the aftermath of a car collision, you may struggle to think clearly about what you should do. Firstly, take a deep breath and focus your attention on what is happening around you. The most important thing to check is that you and your passengers are safe and haven’t been injured. Obviously, if there are any injuries, you will need to call the emergency services.

In the event of an accident, you will need to stop your car, as it is illegal to leave the scene of a crash. Put on your hazard warning lights to make other road users aware that you have stopped and that there is an incident ahead.

If the collision has caused a blockage in the road, or there is scattered debris, you may need to call the police for the road to be closed while the road is cleared and safe for traffic to pass.

THINK PRACTICALLY

Now that you have stopped the vehicle and ensured that no one is in any immediate danger, it is time to take a deep breath and gather the information that you will need to make an insurance claim.

Remember to stay calm when you see the other driver, and even if it was you that caused the accident do not admit liability for it by apologizing or offering to pay for any damage. Do not get caught up in an argument about who is to blame for the collision. Deciding who was at fault is something that can be handled by the insurance company and police based on the facts of the incident.

If you have suspicions that the other driver may have rammed your car on purpose with the intention of making a false insurance claim, then it may be worth phoning the police, the same applies if you suspect that they may be driving without vehicle tax or insurance. Likewise, if the driver seems to be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, then you should call the police for them to be tested.

If the police do attend the scene of the accident, be sure to get their name and badge number.

Start to gather information, by taking photos of any damage, and photos or sketches of the position of the cars on the road.

Make a note of how many passengers were in the other vehicle, and also whether they are stating that they have been injured during the accident, these details will be useful if any of the passengers decide to make an injury claim.

It is crucial to get the other driver’s insurance details, name, address, the vehicle registration number, vehicle registration certificate and driver’s license along with the vehicle owner’s details.

Make a note of the time that the accident occurred, as this is information that may be hard to retain if you are in shock following the collision. Also make notes of the weather and road conditions that may have contributed to the accident, i.e. if it was heavy rain, or if there was an obstruction on the road.

WITNESSES

If other road users or passersby witness the accident, ensure that you get their details so that they can verify what happened.

If the other vehicle has passengers, it is also worth getting their details as they will also be witnesses of the accident. It is also useful to record how old the passengers in the other vehicle are too.

It is always useful to have witnesses in the event of an accident. In particular, independent witnesses can be a helpful way for insurance companies and the police to ascertain precisely what has happened and decide which driver was at fault.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Once you have all the information that is needed and the police have told you that you may go (if they attended the scene), check your car to see if it is safe to drive home. If the vehicle is unsafe to operate following the accident you will need to arrange vehicle recovery. It is likely that your insurance company will sort out the recovery of your vehicle, but you should contact them to confirm this and to make arrangements.

If your car is safe enough to drive home, remember to take it easy as you may be in shock.

As soon as you are able to do so, contact your insurance company to inform them what has happened, so that they can advise you of the next steps you need to take.

It is only natural to feel emotional after being involved in a car accident, either as the driver or as a passenger. Remaining calm will ensure that you are thinking clearly about what needs to be done and will help you to make sure that you don’t miss out on getting any critical information that you need in order to make your claim.


Photo: Takahiro taguchi on Unsplash

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