What to do right after an auto accident

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<ol><li> 1. What to do right after an auto accidentAn auto accident is an event you can never prepare enough for, yet for most people, drivingon the roads is one of the riskiest things they ever do in their lives. According to theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 34000 people were killed inmore than 5.8 million crashes in 2009* (*estimated data).Heres a list of what to do after an auto accident to make the situation for yourself andothers around you easier.Assess the situation- Though its natural to panic, get angry, feel guilty or get into a stateof shock right after an auto accident, try to remain as calm as possible by taking deepbreaths. If your car is blocking the road, move it to a side (in some states moving a vehiclefrom the scene of accident might be illegal till investigations are over, so its good to readup your state law over this); if you or your passengers are stranded in the car, switch onyour hazard lights and call 911 right away.Give medical attention a priority- Find out the extent of injuries to you and the otherdriver. Check the passengers in your car to see if anybody needs immediate medicalattention. If they do, call an ambulance at once. Life and health are more important thandamage to the car.Investigate damage to car/ property Alert other drivers on the road by placing orangecones or other emergency signs around the scene of the accident. Check for preliminarydamage to the vehicles involved in the accident. Though there might be hidden damageswhich will reveal themselves over time, the initial damage will give you an idea whether aclaims process from either side will be necessary or not.Do not assign blame at this stage- You might be tempted to assign fault or plead guiltyright after an auto accident, but its best to keep quiet and let the police investigate thematter. If you need to speak, do so only with the police officers. There are high chancesthough, that police might not interfere if both the drivers are able to drive away in their owncars after the auto accident. If that happens, ensure that you go to the police station to filea vehicle incident report right after the auto accident.Record as much of the accident scene as you can take photographs, make notes,draw diagrams, record eye-witness statements and jot down the date, time and weatherconditions at the time of the accident. You might need to file a claim or fight one at a laterdate, so your records will prove really handy to the police and your auto insurance companyat the time.Exchange your name, address and license number and insurance details with theother driver- This is something that necessarily should be done right after an auto accidentso that you dont end up with a big medical/ auto-shop bill that needs to be claimed and amissing at fault party. </li><li> 2. Notify your insurance- Notify your auto insurance carrier right away. Remember, thesooner you report the incident to the authorities after the auto accident, the lesser are thechances of facts being distorted at a later date.Use the assistance of your insurance company - Towing your vehicle away from thescene, renting a substitute vehicle till yours gets repaired, or helping out with a list ofcertified workshops that can conduct repairs to your car; use your auto insurance companyto help you out as you might be too shocked after the auto accident to work out thesethings.Start the claims process Make sure you know whats included in your policy and whatisnt. Are the damages big enough to pay up your deductible and still benefit from the claimamount? Get your own estimate of the physical damage to the vehicle, collect medical billsand once you are satisfied you have an accurate claim figure, file a claim. Do not be in ahurry to accept the first offer an auto insurance company makes to you after an autoaccident. If you take up one too quickly, you might end up with pending bills that need tobe settled out of pocket.Preemptive measures- Keep your medical information, your insurance details, a first aidkit, orange cones or other distress signals, and a long rope in the trunk of your car handy.Its always a good idea to keep a good auto insurance coverage on your policy. Highliability amounts, collision, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, all make your lifeeasier in case you get into an auto accident.In the US alone there are close to six million auto accidents every year. While you might bea great driver, its always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality. There are highchances that the suddenness of a crash might leave you feeling dazed and confused aboutwhat to do after an auto accident so make a copy of this list and keep it in a safe place inyour car for ready reference. Hope you never need to use it though!*Ref: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/811291.pdf</li></ol>