You’re driving down a snowy road, and road conditions are already hazardous. You’re taking your time, driving slowly and safely so that you can reach your destination. Then, all of a sudden, you miss a spec of black ice that’s on the road. Your tire slips, you lose control of your car, and all of a sudden, you’re in a ditch, with your car now wrecked.
There is never a good time to get into a car accident, but the wintertime is particularly brutal. In fact, 17 percent of all crashes occur in the winter, and given the bad conditions and cold weather that can hinder emergency crews from reaching you. So if you find yourself in a winter car accident, here are some steps you can take to minimize the pain.
1. Breathe and Stay Calm
No one likes to get into an automobile accident. It can be a traumatizing experience and there is a range of emotions that can flow through you at that moment in time. If you’re not seriously injured, you must remain calm. Having a clear head will allow you to figure out the next steps to take involving your vehicle. For starters, if your car can still operate, move it off the road so that traffic won’t be backed up, and it will also reduce the chance of another accident on top of yours.
Afterward, keep calm and take the insurance information of the driver who collided with you, and wait for the authorities to arrive. You mustn’t leave the scene of the accident, as you could be charged with a crime for doing that.
2. Call First Responders
Chances are the police and ambulances have already been called, but just in case, you should reach out to them to alert them of what happened. When talking to emergency operators, let them know if there are others on the scene of the accident that will require medical assistance. Let them know your location and any injuries you may have sustained in the accident.
Afterward, stay inside your vehicle (if it isn’t too badly damaged) and wait for the first responders to arrive. Remember, this is wintertime, and driving conditions are not favorable, and standing on the side of the road with slick conditions could create another precarious situation that everyone would want to avoid.
3. Stay Visible, Stay Warm
Sitting in your car waiting for first responders is also needed so that you can keep warm. You should try your very best to stay as warm as possible due to the freezing conditions outside. This is also why you should keep an extra layer of clothes with you in your car during the winter, or have a blanket in the back seat just in case something like this occurs.
While sitting in your car, however, you should also keep yourself visible so that the first responder can spot the scene. Tie a bright-colored fabric to either your door handle or the antenna of your car. If you have flared in your car (which you should), light the flares so that it can alert first responders. Stay warm and make yourself visible so that the first responder can come to your rescue.
4. Seek Medical Attention
Folks who are not seriously injured in a wintertime accident may refuse to be checked out, but that is something that you should not do. For starters, your adrenaline will be pumping, which may not allow you at first to notice if you sustained any injuries. Once you’ve calmed yourself, that’s when you’ll more-often-than-not see that you were hurt in the accident, which is why, even if you don’t feel it at the moment, you should still seek medical attention just to make sure you haven’t sustained any serious injuries in the accident.
5. Get Any Evidence From the Scene
We’re not saying that you should be playing Sherlock Holmes and try to solve the mystery of your automobile accident. That mystery may already be solved for you if it’s not your fault. However, you must gather evidence of the accident so that you can show proof to your insurance company, or if the accident winds up going to court, you can show your evidence as proof that you were not the one at fault for the accident. Whip out your phone and take pictures of your car and the scene itself, if the police will allow you.
Having a record of the accident will prove to pay off big if the accident winds up having you in court. That’s because the car that hit you may claim that you were the one at fault, and the way that most of these disputes get settled is in small claims courts.
As mentioned earlier, this is also imperative for insurance purposes as well. Most insurance agencies won’t hassle their policyholders about car accidents, but some may be sticky with paying out benefits and may require proof that you were not at fault in the accident especially if the other driver is claiming that you were the one at fault. Having documented proof that you or the elements caused the accident will be worth it.
6. Reach Out to an Auto Accident Lawyer
You have probably seen those ubiquitous billboards all over your town, lawyers advertising that they are the best at representing people injured in automobile accidents. An auto accident lawyer can come in and help get a settlement for damages to your car or injuries that you may have sustained in the accident. Accident lawyers can also get the other driver’s insurance to cover the costs of your damages and injuries by proving that you were not at fault in the accident.
7. Call Your Insurance
Before getting in contact with a lawyer, you will first need to make an important call to your insurance agency. This should be the first step after an accident to inform them of what happened to your car and to activate the benefits of your coverage. Insurance agencies are companies that can cover damages or medical bills, provided that your plan provides ample coverage. In every state in America, drivers are required to have automotive insurance, which ensures that if motorists do indeed get in an accident, the damages can be covered.
Once you’ve gotten in touch with your insurance agent, they could direct you to an auto repair center that is within their network so that you can have your car repaired. Auto collision repair can be a very expensive expense, and this is where you will definitely need auto insurance to come in and save the day for you.
8. See If Your Dealership Has Any Warranties
Now that you have notified your insurance company about your accident, now it’s time to get your car fixed. Most will tell you that you should go to your auto dealership to get your car repaired, especially if you still have a warranty on your vehicle. After the dust settles on your insurance, now would be a great time to see if your car is still under warranty, and if it is, that could make your post-accident life so much easier. For starters, your warranty may cover the auto parts needed to repair your vehicle, which will allow you to save a lot of money. You may also be eligible to get a loaner car that you can drive while your car is getting fixed.
A warranty may also allow you to save on certain parts for your car like auto glass repair and such. Autobody supplies may also be covered under a dealership warranty. It all depends on what type of coverage comes with it. Some dealerships are very generous with their warranties, others may just cover the basics, so it’s up to you to see which type of warranty your car is covered for.
That’s the beauty of being under warranty, but some accidents occur after the warranty has lapsed, which is where insurance comes into play. Insurance acts as sort of a buffer once your warranty has lapsed (though you should be covered as soon s you get the vehicle). You won’t get all of the perks that come with a warranty, but at least the repairs will be covered, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
9. Watch Your Insurance Rates
Even if you’re not at fault, you need to keep a close eye on your insurance rates. While having insurance will get you through a rough patch, for the company, it could also signal that you’re a high-risk driver, which would trigger an increase in your insurance premiums. Insurance companies hike up insurance premiums so that it can recuperate the money that it had to pay out to get your car repaired. In other words, the insurance company is going to get their money back one way or the other.
This is another great reason why you should be careful as possible if you’re driving in winter weather. Not only do you want to temporarily be without transportation, but you also don’t want to have to pay out more for your car insurance, either.
In conclusion, driving in the winter presents a ton of challenges for you and everyone else on the road. No one can change mother nature, so you will have to adapt to what she throws at you while you’re on the road.
While most drivers are indeed careful while driving in inclement weather, there will be a time where those conditions may cause you to get in an accident. Getting in a wintertime accident is not something everyone wants, but following the tips above will make it a bit easier to navigate the treacherous scene that you find yourself in. For starters, make sure that you’re staying calm and keeping your head focused on the situation. It’s easy to get frantic in a car accident, but keeping a clear head will allow you to process the scene and take on the next steps needed.
Afterward, call for help as it will be needed in case you’re in a situation in which injuries are present. Make sure that you tell 911 operators where you are and if there are any injuries on the scene. After you’ve alerted first responders, stay warm and stay visible. Even if you don’t get in an accident, you should keep an extra layer of clothing or a blanket in your car just cause you’re even in this situation. If the weather is truly bad outside, you will need to make sure that you’re visible so that the first responder can find you. Tie a bright-colored piece of clothing or light up flares so that you can be seen.
Once the first responders are on the scene, make sure that you seek medical attention, even if you think you’re not injured at the moment. A lot is going on at the accident scene and you may not notice at first if you’re seriously injured. Once you’ve checked out, and you don’t need to be transported to the hospital, take a picture of the accident scene and the vehicles involved in the accident so that you will have proof that you are not at fault and you can make your case just in case you are taken to court over the accident.
Next, get in contact with your insurance agency to make sure that you’re covered and hire an auto accident lawyer to make sure that the insurance company pays you what you’re owed. If your car is still under warranty, take your car to a dealership so that you will be able to save money on car repairs, which will also lessen how much your insurance will payout, which will cause your insurance premium to stay the same.
Again, being in a wintertime accident is awful, but once you know what to do and how to do it, you will be able to get back on the road in no time.