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Bent Out Of Shape: What To Do If You’re In An Accident

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Bent Out Of Shape: What To Do If You’re In An Accident

My mom always use to say to me as a teen behind the wheel (especially once I got old enough to go “clubbing”), “I’m not worried about YOU, I’m worried about the other drivers on the road. With that said, even the most minute mishap can be frightening and frustrating, and often affects our judgment (at least with how we “choose” to handle the situation). But, experts assert that keeping your cool; even in such heated moments is key to minimizing your anguish, anxiety, and increasing your chances for covering all your bases.

1. Conduct A Safety Check: Even a minor fender bender can’t shake (and test) your nerves and even possibly throw your back out of whack. As tempting as it may initially seem to continue driving, or to jump out of the car and start screaming at the driver at fault, it’s imperative to FIRST make sure you are safe and sans injuries. If you seem to be fine, refrain from initially moving too hastily, and make sure to get out of your vehicle curbside, avoiding (dangers from) other traffic. Remember to maintain your “calm” especially when exchanging information with the other driver, making sure to position yourselves far enough from both your vehicles as to avoid other potential “accidents”.

2. Swapping Information: Make sure to request and check that you’ve received detailed and thorough information (and be willing to offer the same), even if the damage seems to be nominal. Keep a cool, non-confrontational or threatening disposition and make sure you walk away with (and hand out) the following.

· Names, addresses and phone numbers (of the driver and passengers).

· Insurance policy numbers and expiration dates

· Driver’s license number (To make sure the driver has a valid license)

· Make, model, serial number of the other vehicle.

3. Take Note Of Your Environment And Circumstances: The more information you are “armed” with, the better. Experts remind those involved that while you shouldn’t always assume the “worst”, you never know who you are dealing with, so, it’s best to guard yourself against possible scams etc. Make note of (all) those in the other vehicle including what they look like, age, etc., and make sure they are okay before leaving the scene. Plus, if there are any witnesses, take down their contact information. While most claims don’t take too long to get resolved, it’s best to have detailed notes to help fill in the gaps just in case.

4. Take A Picture: Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, experts suggest keeping a digital or inexpensive disposable camera handy for emergency moments such as this…but a phone cam can work just as well. And they suggest making sure to capture all the fine details on “film”.

5. Determine Whether Or Not You Need To Involve Police: Injuries, including minor ones, should be reported to the police. However, if there are no injuries, and damage is less than $1,000 you don’t need to get police involved. Still, professionals suggest playing it safe than sorry (especially since it’s easy to rack up $1,000 worth of damage).

It’s also important to get police involved if there are any questions or doubts about the other driver. Often times drivers are unable to provide you with the proper paperwork or documentation, which can mean that they are either here illegally or that the vehicle was stolen. And, as far as the experts advise, when in doubt, call the police.

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