Tips on How to Deal with a Car Accident

Madison Baltimore, Staff Editor

Picture this: you’re driving home from work on a Saturday evening, around 6:15 p.m. You’re going through an intersection, just five minutes away from your house, when all of a sudden, another vehicle runs the light and crashes into you. They hit the back end of your car so you spin out and hit a nearby telephone pole head-on. Sounds scary, right? It was. That’s what happened to me on December 14, 2019. Luckily, I wasn’t badly hurt; I escaped with just a few bruises and some whiplash, but my car was totaled.

I vividly remember calling my parents after I got out of my car to check the damage, standing in the cold, still in my work uniform after a long shift. I was mainly upset that the other driver wasn’t paying attention; she even had her daughter in the car with her.

Having a car accident is a terrible experience, especially if you get significantly injured, but how do you deal with insurance companies and hospital bills? What does the aftermath of a car accident look like?

  1. If you’re able to do so, it’s good to get out of your car, after turning your hazard lights on, and look at the damage and assess the situation. Your hazards signal other drivers around you that something is wrong and you may need help, especially if it’s dark outside and hard to see.
  2. If you can, gather information from the other driver, or drivers, involved in the accident. This should include contact details as well as insurance information so you can contact their insurance company if you choose to file a claim with them. Be sure to also write down the other driver’s license plate, as this is very important if they drive off and your accident becomes a hit-and-run.
  3. It’s also a good idea to call the police, especially if you want a police report or if the accident is severe enough. If it’s a very minor fender bender that you and everyone involved can handle by yourselves, you likely won’t have to call them. However, do not be discouraged to call for help if you need it.
  4. Alert your insurance company as soon as you can. Some companies might say that you can wait up to a year or longer to file a claim, but it’s always best to get it over and done with so you don’t have to worry about it later in the future.
  5. Always answer your phone to unknown numbers, as it could be insurance companies trying to ask you questions about your accident. It’s also very important to keep records of everything, especially hospital bills, doctor visits, mechanical body shop receipts, and other records of that nature.
  6. If you’re not sure that you are getting the correct compensation, do not hesitate to get a lawyer to help you, since some insurance companies may try to trick you. Even if you are getting a significant amount of money back, it doesn’t hurt to have someone negotiate with the insurance company and get you a little extra money that can be used for school, a new car, or other expenses.

Since this was my first car accident, I didn’t know how to handle the situation. Luckily, my grandmother and other family members helped me get through it. They talked to the insurance company on my behalf, gave me rides when I needed them, and they were there as a shoulder to cry on when I felt stressed about the whole situation. If you ever find yourself the victim of a car accident and need someone to talk to, don’t forget that Counseling and Career Services offers free, confidential counseling sessions to students in the RCF building in room 302.