Car Accident Essentials
Almost all of us at some point or another will find ourselves involved in an automobile accident. Here in the Valley, we have a high ratio of accidents; nonetheless, an automobile accident is a jarring experience, no matter how minor the damage.
The first thing you need to do if there is an accident is to make sure everyone in your car is unharmed. Oftentimes, the shock of the jolt will send adrenaline racing through a person’s body, which will cause shock, which blocks pain receptors. It’s not unusual for a person to feel fine, and only when they notice blood on their shirt will they realize they’ve been cut. As the person in charge, it’s your duty to physically look at the other passengers and make sure they’re all unharmed. (If you don’t believe yourself to be the person in charge, ask yourself why you were the one who remembered to check everyone over.) If anyone is hurt, please do not move them. Neck and internal injuries can be greatly exacerbated by moving the victim. Call emergency medical personnel.
Quickly check the car. If you see flame, or smell gasoline, get away from the car immediately.
Stay out of the way of oncoming traffic.
Check the passengers in any other cars involved to see if there are injuries. If so, call for help.
In Arizona, you only need to report an accident to the police if there is an injury or death.
Our law says:
The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of a person shall give notice of the accident immediately by the quickest means of communication, whether oral or written, to either:
1. The local police department if the accident occurs within a municipality.
2. The office of the county sheriff.
3. The nearest office of the highway patrol.
If there is an injury, apply first aid.
Scout around and see if there is a witness, someone who saw what happened. Police will take their statement if there were injuries as a result of the accident. If not, you will need to obtain their information to give to the insurance companies. Sometimes, passengers feel fine that day, but the next day they may find they have a stiff neck, or a bit of 'whiplash'. If it's moderate to severe, seek medical treatment.
Notify your insurance company. In the event the accident is deemed to be your fault or if there is a claim against you, they will handle the details.
Depending on your policy coverage, you may or may not be covered. In the event you’re covered, you will need to talk to your insurance company and make a claim. If the accident was the other driver’s fault, they may deal with the other insurance company on your behalf. Defer to them on this.
If the accident is your fault and your insurance doesn’t cover the damage to your car, you will have to make some decisions. The first decision is whether or not the car is worth repairing. This is assuming your car is paid off. You will have to weigh the cost of payments on a new (or used) one vs. the cost of paying for your old one to be replaced. Remember that you may have to come up with a down payment on another car, and that if the car is newer, or a different model, your registration and insurance may go up. On the other hand, if your current car has been costing you some big bucks for repairs, you should figure that in, as well. So down payment+payments+insurance/registration change vs.repair cost+mechanical repair cost. The deciding factor may actually be what you can get for your old car if you sell or scrap it. If that is the case, give us a call.
Automobile accidents are one of those mishaps which happen from time to time. In most cases, after you handle the details, you'll find it's just another bump in the road. :)