A road accident is a surefire way to throw any day off course, and it’s important to understand the right steps to take following a car collision to ensure everyone is taken care of.

First and foremost, make sure that everyone in all vehicles is okay. Cars can be replaced, and while accidents can be stressful and uncomfortable, they are a part of life. If necessary, call 911 and have trained professionals handle the treatment. If you are new to CPR technique and basic first aid, there is no time like today to learn – or brush up on a bit.

Once you have established that everyone is unharmed, you can start dealing with the accident yourself:

  • If you haven’t already had to call 911, call the police on an emergency number right away. It is important to have a record of what happened regardless of the guilt and the officials will provide this on the spot.
  • Take high quality photos of both cars and remember that getting license plates in a few shots is a good idea.
  • Exchange insurance information with the other driver, although a police officer will usually provide it later.
  • Call your insurance agent if you have any questions about the details of your insurance coverage.
  • Give your explanation to the officers present and your insurance company and follow the instructions of the individual officers.

In North Carolina, you should call the guilty driver’s insurance carrier for solutions to the situation. If you have trouble figuring out who is to blame, just call your insurance carrier to report the incident and let them work with the other carrier.

If you call your carrier and find that you don’t have the coverage you need for a particular type of accident or damage, your insurance company may not be able to help – so make sure you understand your coverage!

If you need a rental car due to damage, you will have to wait for the guilty driver’s insurance carrier to take responsibility. If it was your fault and you do not have coverage for damage to your vehicle (this coverage is commonly known as “liability only”), you will have to pay to fix the problem. Or you have to pay your deductible. Coverage may not be expensive. Call your network operator and make sure you have them before an accident happens!

Who’s to blame?

In the state of North Carolina, each driver (and their respective insurance company) is likely responsible for their own damage if the fault is in any way shared between drivers. Dollar amounts depend on deductibles and coverage, so again make sure you know exactly what your policy covers.

While it’s not an absolute truth, a good rule is that if you upgrade someone else, it’s your fault. Also, be extra careful in parking lots, where poorly defined rules and lack of attention are responsible for a large number of accidents.

Pay attention to where cars are and are allowed to move, and pay attention to the right of way. Left turns are also the culprit for many fender benders. So be extra careful!

Other considerations

As soon as the police are called, the accident is part of your permanent record. The officers will also give a rough estimate of the damage in their report, but this figure in no way reflects a final total. If a claim is not made, the insurance companies will charge the culpable driver as indicated in the police report, and the insurance points will be determined by monetary damage caused to all vehicles involved. If you have any comments or questions about accidents and auto insurance, please contact tpotter@aai4u.com.