Car Accident While Traveling – What You Need to Do

Car accidents are common, with 1.59 million injury-causing accidents in 2020, and 35,766 fatalities. Being in a car accident is never fun, especially if you are traveling in an unfamiliar area, but it’s even worse if you crash while on vacation. Here are some important steps to take if you are in a car accident while traveling, whether for work or leisure.

Assess the Situation and Check for Injuries

The first thing you’ll want to do is assess the situation. Try to stay calm and evaluate if anyone is injured. If there are injuries, call 911 immediately. Do not move anyone who looks hurt unless there is imminent danger, as you could worsen their injuries. Administer first aid if you can safely do so while waiting for medical assistance. Ask the other drivers for their contact information.

If the accident is minor with no injuries, move your vehicles to the side of the road out of the flow of traffic, if possible. Turn on your hazard lights and set up road flares or warning triangles if you have them. 

Take Photos and Document the Scene

Take photos of the scene, so you can prove what happened and why. For example, a photo will show the weather at the time of the accident, which could be a factor. The US Department of Transportation says 1.2 million accidents between 2007 and 2016 were weather-related

File a Police Report

Contact the local police to file an accident report. Many states require submitting a report if there is significant damage, injuries, or a fatality. Even if it is not required, having the police investigation and official report will help support your insurance claim. Provide a statement on what happened to the officer. Get a copy of the police report before leaving the scene.

Speak with Your Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company of the accident. Provide them with the date, time, location, and details of the incident along with the other driver’s insurance information. 

Deal with a Rental Car

If your vehicle is inoperable after the accident, work with your regular auto insurance company and/or credit card company that provides rental car insurance to arrange for a rental car to get you to your destination. Review the rental agreement carefully for terms, conditions, and deductibles. Clarify who will be covering payments before signing.

Seek Medical Treatment

Even if you don’t have obvious injuries after the crash, it’s wise to get examined by a doctor. Symptoms from whiplash, concussions, and other problems sometimes take hours or days to manifest, and around 3 million people are affected by whiplash in the US every year. Have the doctor document all accident-related issues for your insurance claim and future treatment needs.

Speak to a Car Accident Attorney

For major accidents with injuries or complex legal and insurance matters, it may be wise to hire a car accident attorney. They will handle the insurance claims process on your behalf and make sure your legal rights are protected. Be selective in choosing a qualified local attorney where the accident happened. Many offer free consultations.  

Being in a car accident while traveling can quickly turn an enjoyable trip into a nightmare. Following these steps will help ensure you get proper medical care, protect your legal rights and insurance claim, and handle the aftermath as efficiently as possible. Stay calm, be diligent with documentation, and don’t hesitate to ask for help.

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