Nobody wants to think about the worst-case scenario, especially when they’re getting ready to go on their first vacation in around two years. However, sometimes the worst-case scenario occurs whether you’ve planned for it or not.
Auto accidents are among the most likely worst-case scenarios for travelers, as the US is known for having an epidemic of car crashes, as well as injuries sustained and death resulting from those crashes. Over 20,000 people died in car accidents in the first half of 2021 alone, resulting in the most significant number of auto accidents on US roads since 2006.
Even those who didn’t perish in those accidents did not escape unscathed, as the total cost of deaths, injuries, and property damage in that same period was well over 241 billion dollars.
Unavoidable, But Not Unrecoverable
Worse, the possibility that you might get into an auto accident is altogether unavoidable, as any number of factors might contribute to your car being totaled: hazardous driving conditions, drunk drivers, and unfamiliar traffic patterns are all likely hazards as you travel across the US, and you’re arguably more likely to get thrown off by such things in unfamiliar territory than you would be otherwise.
However, while the possibility of getting into an accident is largely unavoidable (unless that is, you eliminate the issue entirely by using an alternative form of transportation, such as a commercial bus), it is possible to recover from an accident expediently if you take the proper steps to prepare for one.
Planning ahead is crucial, as adrenaline and shock might work against you in the immediate aftermath of an accident: knowing what you need to do before you get into an accident will give you something to fall back on, a practiced plan you can follow even while your mind is (understandably) clouded.
With that in mind, here are some essential steps you should take in the aftermath of an accident, no matter where you are in the US.
Get to Safety
After the accident occurs, your first priority should be to navigate your vehicle to a space that is out of the way of oncoming traffic: a space like a roadside shoulder, an open pasture on level ground, or even a parking lot or rest stop.
The goal isn’t to avoid dealing with the accident, so turn your hazards on as you move your vehicle to let the other driver know that you’re planning on going elsewhere.
The idea is to get to a safe space where you can complete the next steps, where you aren’t blocking traffic or running the risk of creating a pileup. Once you and the other driver are in a safe location, move to step 2.
Document All You Can
After communicating with the other driver and obtaining their insurance information, your next step will be to document as much of the damage as possible, taking pictures of the following with your phone camera:
- Any injuries inflicted by the accident, both on you and the other driver.
- Damage to the vehicles involved, no matter how small, will be used to determine compensation from your insurance company.
- Any property damage, should your vehicle have crashed into anything else.
After documenting as much of the scene as you can, your next step should be to call the police. Many drivers skip this step, thinking that they can handle the matter of compensation through negotiation with the other party, and often regret it when their case inevitably goes to court.
A police report is an authoritative, third-party source that can be used to back up your side of the story, defending your case and earning you a larger settlement.
Use Roadside Assistance
If your vehicle has been totaled, or if you suspect that any of the vehicles’ vitals have been damaged, you may want to use your insurance’s roadside assistance option. Roadside assistance is a premium benefit offered by many insurance companies and can serve many functions when you find yourself stranded.
From sending a tech to your accident location to work on your vehicle on-site to sending a tow truck to take your vehicle to a local mechanic, roadside assistance is an invaluable perk that has saved the neck of many a driver.
If your insurance company doesn’t offer roadside assistance, you might not be able to get yourself out of a pickle without paying quite a bit out of pocket. As such, one great thing you can do before you leave for vacation is to compare plans offered by providers, seeing whether your provider offers roadside assistance and if you can find it cheaper elsewhere.
Although you may not be able to eliminate the possibility of accidents altogether, you can prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario while on vacation. The proper preparation will ensure that, in the immediate aftermath of an accident, you’re as safe as possible and can recuperate both your personal and financial losses quickly.