Top Tips for New Drivers: What You Should Know About Your First Car Accident
Getting a license is often considered a big accomplishment. It means you’re trusted enough with the all the responsibilities that come with driving, and you may be itching to hit the open road. There’s a lot of driving advice for new drivers out there, ranging from how to ace your road test to what kind of car you should drive.
However, there’s one topic that all new drivers should learn about: what to do when you get into your first car accident. New drivers may not be thinking about getting into an accident, but unfortunately, accidents do happen.
When you get into your first accident, you may start to panic. You learned how to parallel park, switch lanes, and when you can turn on a red light—but did you learn about what to do after getting into a crash?
You may not know what to do during your first accident. You may be thinking of all the driving advice for new drivers you received and wonder if it will apply to your current scenario. You may wonder what’s going to happen next, but you need to focus on what’s happening in front of you at the moment. A lot of things will go through your mind, but there are key things you must remember to do. Here are 10 tips for new drivers if they get into their first car accident and why it’s so important to follow them.
Tip 1: Make Sure You’re Okay Before Getting Out Of The Car
The first thing you should do after getting into an accident is make sure you’re okay. You may be in shock after the crash, so take a moment and check on yourself. Are you bleeding, or feeling any pain? If there are other people in the car with you during the crash, make sure they are okay as well. If anyone needs assistance getting out of the car, seek assistance right away.
Another helpful piece of driving advice for new drivers in this situation is to check your surroundings before getting out of the car. Is there fluid leaking? Do you smell smoke? If you think you’re in danger while in the car, get out immediately. If your surroundings are hazardous due to the crash, get to a safe place as soon as you can.
Tip 2: Get Medical Help
When you get into a crash and realize someone is injured, call for medical help immediately. Sometimes, even if you, your passengers, or the other person involved in the crash seem okay, there could be a medical emergency lying beneath the surface. If you think emergency care is necessary, it most likely is. This is probably one of the most important pieces of driving advice for new drivers who get into their first crash.
If you see that the injuries are minor, it’s still a good idea to look up medical care clinics around you and pick one to go to. You could have injuries you’re not aware of, and a doctor at a clinic could help you find (and treat) them. These clinics could also recommend doctors to visit if you have specific injuries, like orthopedic doctors if you have a bone injury.
Tip 3: Don’t Admit Fault
One of the most important pieces of driving advice for new drivers experiencing their first crash is not to admit fault. This means that even if you think the crash was your fault and the other person involved is blaming you at the scene, you should not say the accident was your fault. They could be angry because they have a truck rental to return, they were supposed to pick up their child, etc. No matter what they say, don’t admit the crash was your fault.
The main reason why you shouldn’t admit fault is that there’s a process to determine who is at fault in a crash. If you say you caused the crash, your statement can be used against you later on. An investigation could conclude that the crash wasn’t actually your fault, but because you admitted you caused the crash, the case could go down a slippery slope.
When you get into a crash, do not admit to anything at the scene. Exchange the proper information with the other parties involved (your name, insurance information, etc.) and then call your insurance company. If need be, you can also call an accident attorney to get advice on what your next steps should be.
Tip 4: Give Your Insurance Company All The Details
When you get into your first car accident, you may be tempted to omit some of the details from your insurance company. Anyone who gives driving advice for new drivers will tell you that this is a bad idea. You should be completely honest with your insurance company about the crash.
Some key information you should share with your insurance company include when the accident happened, how it happened, and the damage your car has. If your windshield is shattered, tell them so they can see if your policy covers windshield repair. Even if the damage seems minor, report it. Details are important to insurance companies, so you need to be as accurate as possible.
You must take pictures of the damage as well. Your insurance company may ask for pictures of your vehicle after the crash. They may accept the pictures you take, or they could have an adjuster come to the scene. It’s best to get clarity on this while you are making your claim.
Tip 5: Be Honest With The Police
Another entity you want to be completely honest about your accident with is the police. Give accurate information about when the accident happened, and what lead up to it. If you are not honest with the police about your crash, it could backfire on you quickly. In some cases, you could even get sued for lying about a car crash. The evidence of that lie could come in the form of a police report.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that honesty is the best policy when it comes to a car accident. Be honest with the authorities, the medical personnel, and whoever else is involved. You should also be as detailed as possible. You may not think passing a recreational vehicle storage facility right before your crash is an important detail, but it could be for police (these storage facilities are also vital in improving the longevity of any recreational vehicles that don’t fit in your garage). Give as many details as you can. Some police officers know some driving advice for new drivers, and if you’re involved in a minor crash, they could offer some tips on how to prevent future accidents.
Tip 6: Don’t Post Anything On Social Media
One of the most important pieces of driving advice for new drivers is to never use social media or text while driving. Well, the same could be said for using social media after a crash.
A good rule to follow after a crash is to not post anything on social media about it. Don’t post anything that could imply you think you’re at fault or anything that is negative about other parties involved in the crash. You don’t even want to include if you needed to seek out emergency care, in some cases. Check with your accident attorney. After all, you never know what’s going to happen with an accident. It could cause you to go to court. If you do end up in court, your social media posts could be used against you.
Getting into your first accident can make you feel overwhelmed and angry, however, you shouldn’t act on emotion right away. Don’t let one in-the-moment social media post possibly define your future.
Tip 7: Seek Legal Representation (If Needed)
If you’re involved in a fender-bender and no one is seriously injured, the odds of you needing a lawyer after your crash are pretty low. However, depending on the circumstances that lead up to the crash, you may need to look for legal help afterward. After details of the crash are revealed, you may end up taking legal action against another person, or someone may take legal action against you. Either way, you’ll need someone to represent you in court.
There are lawyers out there who specialize in representing people involved in car accidents. You can talk to a car accident attorney and decide if you want them to represent you, if it’s needed. They can help you weigh your options. Sometimes, your lawyer can arrange for things to be settled out of court, but that’s dependent on numerous variables. At the end the day, you should hire a lawyer you feel confident in and who has your best interest at heart.
Tip 8: Evaluate Your Car’s Damage
After your crash, you need to evaluate your car’s damage. You need to do this for your insurance agency, and you need to do it for yourself. You should determine whether the car can be fixed, or if it’s totaled and you need another car.
If you think you can fix the car, you have a few options. If your car has minor damage that can be fixed by someone you know in the automotive industry, you can keep it in your own garage and have them work on it. You can even keep track of the repairs in a list on your garage door. However, if you can’t fix the damage on your own, you’ll need to take it to an auto repair shop. The repair shop will be able to perform tasks you may not be able to perform, including performance fluids checks and body repair.
If your car is totaled, you’ll need to get a new car. You could purchase a brand new car from the lot, or you could look at used cars. Used cars make up 3 of 4 automotive sales in the United States. Many people opt for used cars when purchasing a new ride since they tend to be less expensive. Whether it’s new or used, you should pick a car you’re comfortable driving in.
Tip 9: Stay Up-To-Date On What’s Happening
It’s important that you stay on top of what’s happening throughout the entire post-crash process. You should be up-to-date on what’s going on with your insurance claim, your car repairs (if needed), any follow-up doctor’s appointments at the hospital you may have, etc. If you think it’s too much to handle, try coming up with a strategy to tackle it.
A good way to start organizing what you need to track is by writing it down in a planner or calendar. For example, if your insurance agency said they’d have more information about your claim by a certain date, make a note about it on a calendar so you don’t forget. The same strategy can be done for doctor’s appointments, court dates, repair appointments, etc.
Tip 10: Take Your Time Getting Back On The Road
No matter how many of us give out driving advice for new drivers, accidents do happen. Your first accident can be nerve-wracking, and you may not feel like driving for a while. That’s perfectly fine.
You shouldn’t be driving if you don’t feel comfortable behind the wheel of a car. Take your time and make sure you get behind the wheel once you feel you are ready. It’s okay if this takes a little while. You can take public transportation, ask friends and families for rides, use ride share services, or invest in a bicycle in the meantime. You will be ready to get back on the road one day, but there shouldn’t be a rush if you aren’t confident behind the wheel.
No matter how safe you are on the road, accidents happen. There’s only so much driving advice for new drivers out there. The key thing to remember is to stay calm and have a plan in place in case an accident does happen. A lot of emotions will be running at the scene of a crash, but everyone needs to have a clear head and focus on what matters. Overall, everyone’s health and safety are the top priorities. Make sure everyone is okay, and handle the rest in strides.