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Having Car Accident Information Beforehand May Help Your Headache After

Who’s at Fault? The Money Will Speak for Itself

It’s really scary to be involved in a car accident. Having all your necessary car accident information ready to go before such an event occurs will help guide you and may provide some peace of mind amid the turmoil. The story I’ll present here will highlight the very real need to be prepared to handle a car accident before it occurs, to save you a major headache afterward:

Janice was in tears as she told me about her daughter’s car accident. Physically, her daughter Cheryl was fine, but the accident left scars- both emotional and economic. While the specific details of the accident aren’t important, Cheryl’s actions during and immediately following the accident are extremely relevant to its ultimate economic impact.

Actions during and immediately following the accident are extremely relevant to its ultimate economic impact

Most importantly, if Cheryl is found to be the party “responsible” for the accident, her premiums will likely increase (along with her mom’s blood pressure!) for the next 3 to 7 years. In addition, based on the insurance contract purchased, the policy benefits will likely differ depending on the determination of liability. Unless you have the right car accident information ahead of time, you may not know what to do when one occurs and, the risk of a negative economic outcome will be high.

The Aftermath: Gather Your Car Accident Information

Learning how to drive is a rite of passage into adulthood. We hone our driving skills in deserted parking lots, empty fields, and sometimes even cemeteries. We practice navigating different terrain and weather obstacles. Nevertheless, scoring 100% on your Driver’s Ed test isn’t enough. Neither is mastering the three point turn. While no one plans (or wants!) to have a car accident, it’s crucial that we also prepare ourselves to handle the aftermath of an automobile collision. Just in case.

While no one plans to have a car accident, it’s crucial that we also prepare ourselves to handle the aftermath of an automobile collision.

Car accidents elicit an abundance of adrenaline and emotion. Distracted thoughts about the immediate consequences of your accident (“Oh no, I am going to be late for work!” or even “How am I going to pay for a rental car?”) should not be your main concern. While those concerns are understandable, the top priority when you are involved in an automobile accident is to immediately attend to health and safety issues and then to make your own record of the accident.

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Be sure to:

  1. Document your perception of the specifics of the event,
  2. Record information from witnesses,
  3. Memorialize as much relevant car accident information as possible. Contemporaneous documentation is best and,
  4. Use your phone to record your feelings (as soon as you’re able to safely do so) and take pictures of yourself and any physical damage to your car and even the other car, if possible.

If called to the accident, the police will eventually create a report (often weeks later). However, nothing can replace the crucial car accident information you provide from your recollection and documentation of events that took place when (or soon after) they occur.

Be proactive.  Make it a point to discuss this issue with family members. Assuming everyone will innately know what to do is a bad assumption. Print out the list at the bottom of this article and tuck it into your glove compartment.

Know How to Record Your Car Accident Information

  • Stay calm and breathe
  • Check for injuries – call 911 (or file an incident report)
  • Stay Safe (be alert to continuing risks)
  • Turn on hazard lights/flares

Do not admit to the accident being your fault. Even if you think it is. State only the facts, and limit your conversations with the police and your insurance agent. If the police are called, you are not obligated to discuss the accident with the other driver at all. Do not engage, offer a picture of your driver’s license, or sign anything. The police will objectively judge the events and make a fault determination. Notify your insurance company.

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While good driving skills always help to prevent most car accidents, there is always a risk of an accident whenever you take the wheel of a car. Having the right car accident information beforehand will help you stay focused in the event of a collision so you can gather what you need, protect your assets and save yourself from an expensive headache that could have been prevented.

'If you fail to plan, plan to fail' ~Benjamin Franklin

Car Accident Information Cheat Sheet

  1. Date:
  2. Time:
  3. Address:
  4. Weather:
  5. Traffic conditions:
  6. Injuries:
  7. Damage incurred:
  8. Pictures:
  9. Description of the accident (direction you were traveling/speed):

 

Witnesses

  • Name:
  • Address:
  • Phone number:
  • Email address:
  • Statement:

Police Information

  • Officer name(s):
  • Jurisdiction:
  • Report number:
  • Badge number:
  • Time/Date:

Documentation/Evidence:

  • Pictures to take at the scene (if safety permits):
  • Damage to cars and objects
  • License plates
  • Insurance cards
  • Location identity (landmarks, street signs)
  • Evidence (tire skid marks, road obstructions)

If you do not call the police, make sure to record the other driver(s):

  • Name:
  • License Plate:
  • Address:
  • Phone number:
  • Email address:
  • Vehicle insurance information:
  • Vehicle Make/Model/Year:
  • VIN #:
  • Insurance company:
  • Policy number:
  • Does the name match the driver?  If not, relationship?
  • Statement:

 

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About Michelle Gershfeld

I’m a debt settlement and bankruptcy attorney who negotiates resolutions between clients and their creditors. I am also a real estate attorney involved in both sides of purchasing and selling distressed real property. I am passionate about teaching people about money and helping individuals of all ages achieve financial independence and success in a "no…

Read Full Bio »   •   View all articles by Michelle »

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