I was reading statistics on car accidents recently that says most drivers will be involved in at least 2 car accidents throughout their lifetime.
At the age of 31 I now fall into this statistic, being involved in my second car accident just a couple weeks ago now. I am hoping it will be the last.
Being an experienced driver with over 14 years on the road neither of the car accidents I was involved in was I behind the wheel. I was the passenger both times and that has changed the way I feel about being a passenger.
My first car crash was when I was 15 and was unavoidable. What happened was that some local livestock got loose from a farm and the dark country roads made for a crummy ending to my mother’s and my day.
The most recent car accident I was involved in could have been avoided and was caused due to inexperience and panicking due to poor road conditions.
Both car accidents have left me a cautious driver behind the wheel but the lack of control being a passenger in a vehicle has left me not too eager to jump in another car as a passenger.
While no one can be truly prepared for a car accident, knowing what to do and how to handle everything can make dealing with the aftermath of a car accident more manageable.
What to do in an accident?
Good question and here is what I’ve learned and hope that it might shed some light for many of what I went through and what I hope no one ever has to experience.
If you are involved in an accident or happen to come across an accident always remember to keep the safety of the persons involved in mind.
If you or any other passenger (s) in the vehicle are injured helping them out of the car may not be in their best interest.
I had to remind a passerby that if she reached in and unlatched my seat-belt without someone holding me, as she tried to do, that I would fall face first onto a smashed windshield.
I appreciate the thought of her trying to help me but I did not need to add to my list of injuries. If you are unsure whether someone in a car accident can be moved safely keep them calm until help arrives.
If you are involved in a car accident and get out of the vehicle be aware of your surroundings and stay away from the road and oncoming traffic. If you vehicle is not badly damaged and can be moved you may want to move it off of the road.
Even if you feel that you are responsible for causing the accident whether or not another car is involved, do not admit guilt at the scene.
Based on police reports and details of the accident the insurance companies involved will designate who is to blame, if any blame is made at all.
Be weary of other drivers who insist that an accident not be reported to police. There is likely a good reason why they are not wanting the police involved.
They could possibly have no insurance, no drivers licence or may even be intoxicated. Car accidents caused by drunk driving happen often unfortunately so don’t try to judge if someone is intoxicated or not, leave that to the police.
If they offer to have your car towed and repaired, politely turn them down as you’re likely to have more trouble than you thought.
Your car may never get repaired or they may deny ever being involved if there is no police report.
The first question you are usually asked after being involved in a car accident is ‘are you okay’?
Unless there are serious, visible injuries many people will say they are fine. Unfortunately in most non-fatal accidents the pain doesn’t always appear until the few days after the accident.
Refusing medical attention immediately following a car accident will likely find you visiting a hospital emergency room either later that day or in the days to follow.
Seeking medical attention right away is important if you are submitting insurance claims due to loss time at work, medical expenses or even a WSIB claim.
They are going to want to see that you were diligent and were assessed in an proper amount of time after the accident.
I said I was okay after being in a car that spun out multiple times and eventually flipped into a ditch. I did not feel any pain immediately after only to find myself at the hospital later that day followed by 10 days of rest at home meaning I had to take time off from work.
You may want to get in touch with a car accident injury lawyer if you think you will be facing big medical bills.
No fault insurance
In Ontario and many other provinces throughout Canada we have what is called no-fault insurance. This does not mean that nobody will be found to be at fault for causing the accident, it just means that everyone involved deals with their own insurance company.
Though many insurance companies offer accident forgiveness on your first at-fault accident, if you are found to be responsible for the accident your premiums may still be increased.
If you are a passenger in a vehicle and are an uninsured driver or are not listed on anyone else’s insurance policy then you would file your claim with another person’s insurance company.
As a passenger it is still a good idea to get all the information about the car accident including the names, addresses, insurance company name and policy number of everyone involved.
Make note of the make, model and color of vehicle they were driving as well. Don’t forget to write down the other vehicle’s license plate number and the name and badge number of the reporting officer.
If there are any witnesses be sure to get their names and phone numbers. Insurance companies are often interested in seeing pictures from the scene of the accident.
If you have a camera or a cell phone with a camera take a couple of pictures of the car accident scene to document the severity of the crash and any damage caused to the vehicle.
If filing an insurance claim do not waste time getting the paperwork submitted. The amount of paperwork involved in a vehicle insurance claim can be overwhelming.
Realistically while you should be resting up as much as possible to recover from any injuries sustained from the accident, insurance companies have time limits on when a claim can be filed.
Taking too long to submit the accident claim may result in little or no coverage.
Loss of income
Any extended benefit plan that you may have through your employer or other means needs to be exhausted before your car insurance will make any payments to you.
This is not only true for medical expenses but also applies to any lost wages at work as a result of injuries from the accident.
Many car insurance policies have a 7 day deductible for loss of income. Luckily I have secondary accident insurance coverage which will cover my lost wages from day 1.
Overpayments made to you by your car insurance company will be expected to repaid if you have other insurance coverage that you did not use before filing the claim with them.
Be aware that you might not get your money right away either so it’s another good reason to have a back up plan or emergency savings just in case. The bills still need to get paid and life goes on while you wait for your insurance claim to go through.
Impact on your life
Whether or not you have any physical injuries after a car accident, the emotional strain that the accident may cause can be jarring.
No matter how long you have driven or how experienced a driver you are they can leave you feeling nervous and anxious to either get behind the wheel again or as a passenger in a car in my case.
It’s hard after the fact to not think of how easily there could have been a different outcome such as a fatal car accident. We were very lucky to avoid any other cars and the multiple hydro poles on that road.
As a single mom with two young kids the thought of how easily I could have been taken away from my kids has been a hard one to get past.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect people to varying extremes. If you find yourself experiencing any of the following symptoms after a car accident talking with close family and friends may be enough to help you overcome the depressing thoughts in the days, weeks or months to follow.
- Are you avoiding emotions or any reminders of the accident?
- Do you have any constant feelings of anger or anxiety?
- Are you constantly reliving the accident in your mind?
- Are you having nightmares or trouble sleeping?
Trying to get back into your everyday activities as long as your injuries allow may be hard to do but will be a big help moving on from the accident. If these things don’t help make an appointment with your doctor to see what other help they can offer to you.
Regardless if you are at fault, behind the wheel or a passenger being involved in a car accident it is not an experience you would ever want to relive.
Remember that any children’s car seats that are involved in an accident need to be discarded and replaced and not re-sold. Your car insurance company may cover the cost of replacing them.
Don’t be afraid to keep after your insurance company, staying in constant contact with them will help to get everything resolved quickly and properly so you can move on and get on with your life.
I hope that everyone reading this will never have to use this information although if you are involved in a car accident it is best to be prepared.
What advice can you offer to someone involved in a car accident?
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