“I’m an Excellent Driver”
What to do if you are in an auto collision
by Gene McGuire
Although he didn’t have a license, Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie Rain Man assured his brother, “I am an excellent driver.”
The problem with excellent drivers is that they too have collisions. These crashes can result in property damage, as well as physical injury and even death.
Auto crashes can be caused by a myriad of reasons. Perhaps the collision is the fault of another driver or of your own making. You could have caused a minor fender bender because you were distracted by something. You could be involved in a serious accident where another driver runs a red light or stop sign and t-bones your vehicle.
Although the scope of damages can be different in these, all collisions can emotionally “rattle” or “freak out” the persons involved. No one leaves their house in the morning anticipating a motor vehicle crash but it is a good idea to know what to do in the event of an collision before it happens.
Be Prepared BEFORE the Crash
If you prepare
✓ Make sure to carry your legal documentation
- – ID or legal driver’s license
- – Insurance Card
- – Vehicle Registration
✓ Have your phone on you and fully charged.
✓ If you don’t have a phone with a camera, you might want to carry a disposable camera in the glove box.
It’s also a good idea to keep a small note pad and pen for writing down notes and information at the accident scene. You can also write who you want authorities to contact in the event of an emergency on your note pad cover.
✓ Put important loose items in glove box or console. In an accident, loose items like glasses can fly around and get lost.
✓ Keep a safety kit in your trunk. You can purchase a roadside preparedness kit which includes items such as flares, cones, and minor first aid supplies.
Just AFTER a Crash…
Am I Safe?
Make sure you and your vehicle are in a safe location after the accident.
Check for Injuries
First, check yourself and passengers for injuries. Then check to see if he other driver is injured.
If there are injuries, Texas law requires that you call 911 and get medical aid.
Call police and report the collision
For minor crashes without injuries, it is not necessary to call the police, though it is offen a good idea. Police often document the accident and file a report that might be needed by your insurance company.
When police arrive, follow their directions.
Do not admit fault.
No matter what, do not admit fault to the police officer or other driver. Let the insurance company or police determine who was at fault it is.
While you make think it is your fault, there may be something unseen that contributes to the accident.
Document the Scene
- Get the other driver’s following information:
- Name and driver’s license number
- Contact info
- Insurance company name and policy number
- Vehicle make and model
- Vehicle license plate number
Note Details of the Collision
While it is still fresh in your memory, use your note pad and write down details of how the accident happened. Note the damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle. Note weather conditions, in case they played a factor.
The more information you have about the crash the better.
✓ Take pictures.
Use your phone or camera to take pictures of the accident scene. Take pictures of both cars and physical injuries. Take pictures of any signs, trees, or other stationary objects they may have contributed to the accident.
✓ Talk to witnesses.
Take names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident.
✓ Have your vehicle towed.
If you can’t drive your vehicle have it towed. Most insurance companies will provide roadside assistance towing.
✓ Contact your insurance company.
Always contact your insurance company and report the accident. They are often your advocate in a dispute with other drivers. Provide them with all your notes,details, and photographs of the accident. A claims adjuster will likely record a statement from you about the accident.
✓ File a police report
In Texas, you are require to complete and submit a Driver’s Crash Report within 10 days of an accident, if a police report has not been filed. This applies if the accident caused injury or death or property damage is at least $1,000.00 or more.
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run…
Sometimes the other driver involved doesn't hang around after a crash. If the other driver takes off afterward and doesn't stay to talk to the police or even to trade information, then your crash becomes what's known as hit-and-run.
Record or note any information about the vehicle that you are able to see:
- License plate number
- Auto make, model, and color
- Call 911
- Talk to any witnesses
- Make a police report
- Report accident to your insurance provider
Do not allow
Be Careful who you give your information.
Protect your identity by giving only:
- Your name
- Your vehicle make, model, year, color, and VIN number
- The name of your insurance company
Don't let anyone photograph your driver license or registration. Do not provide your home address or contact information to other drivers or witnesses.
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