Many people are prepared for an earthquake but have no idea what to do to prepare for an auto accident. OK we here in California either have or will experience an earthquake but it’s almost as likely we will experience an auto accident and may not have thought about what might minimize the impact on ourselves and the loved ones with us at that time.
Steps to take before an accident:
- Keep a first aid kit and safety kit in the car - It’s important to keep a safety kit in the car for emergencies. These are available commercially or, you can always make your own. Your kit should include the items listed later in this article.
- Have your insurance and emergency contact information in your glove box - After an accident you may be disabled or unconscious. Emergency responders will often go in the glove box to find information on the driver. Along with your insurance card keep an emergency contact list with the number of persons you would want notified if you were hurt.
- Have a spare tire and a jack- Remember, its not enough to just carry a spare tire, you also need a jack and the lug nut tool. It’s also imperative just like you check the fluid levels, to check periodically to see the spare tire is inflated. You also need to know how to physically change the tire in the case of an emergency.
Safety Car Kit Should Include:
- Jumper Cables
- Tire Pressure Gauge
- Flashlight (with fresh batteries)
- Flares/Cones/ Hazard Triangle
- Emergency Poncho
- Small Set of tools
- Utility or pocket knife
- First Aid Kit
Steps to take during an accident:
- Relax – You need to try to remain calm in these situations, panic never helps. Try not to make any sudden movements as you may be injured. Carefully check that you and your passengers are all physically OK.
- Find a Safe Place to Move the Car- If the accident is minor, and you are not hurt, it is often better to move the car to a safe place than leave it in the middle of the road. In a more serious accident, or if the car can’t be moved, proceed with caution, especially if you choose to exit the vehicle.
- Call 911- Do NOT assume the other party has called them.
- Get Information from the Other Party – It is VERY important at this point to get the information from the driver of the other vehicle. This would include make model, license plate number of the other parties vehicle and their insurance carrier. Do NOT state who was at fault even if you think it was yourself. Let the police and insurance companies work out the liability issues. If you have a camera phone, you may want to take pictures particularly if you intend to move the cars from the point of impact. It’s always a good idea to have pictures taken before you alter the scene. If the other party is belligerent, do not engage them, get back in your car and wait for emergency responder assistance.
Steps to take after an accident:
- Get a copy of the police report- Again, don’t admit fault to the officer or to the other party. Allow the officer and insurance company to handle that. If you took pictures with your camera phone don’t forget to submit them to your carrier.
- Damages- Often times a few days after an accident, you may start to feel pain. It is common for people to have a delayed reaction after an accident often five to ten days after the incident. The common symptoms that can occur: Headaches, neck pain, dizziness, disorientation, memory loss, low back pain, shoulder pain and the list goes on and on. Do not delay treatment. The quicker you get on it, the quicker you will recover.
- Attorney- I am sorry to have to print this but insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart. If they play games with you, get yourself an attorney. Never sign anything without reading and understanding it first, and never sign blank documents. Sadly, many carriers try to “Negotiate” with accident victims when they are at their weakest, hurt and fearful. Again even your own carrier is most interested in their own bottom line not your physical or emotional state.
I hope the above information will help you if you are involved in an auto collision. Please take the steps I’ve mentioned, its better to be prepared in advance then sorry later.
Yours in Health,
Dr. H. Edward Camp