No one likes to think about the possibility of getting into a car crash, but it happens. Getting into a car accident close to home is bad enough — but having that happen far from home can be nightmare fuel. If you’re on a road trip, no matter if you’re 100 or 1,000 miles away, what do you need to do if you get into a car accident?
Your first step is the same as it would be if you had an accident close to home — assess your injuries and the injuries of your passengers, as well as the driver and passengers of the other car. If you don’t have any apparent injuries, get out of the car and check on everyone else involved.
Once you’ve assessed injuries and ensured no one is in immediate danger, it’s time to call the police.
The next step is to call 911 and inform the authorities there has been an accident. If you’re not sure where you are, look for landmarks — interstate exits, businesses, even highway mile markers can help the police find where you are. If you’ve got Google Maps on your phone, that can help you find your location down to the nearest intersection or even the coordinates.
If they aren’t blocking traffic, try not to move the cars until the police and other emergency services arrive.
Make sure you get contact information for anyone involved in the accident, especially if you’re far from home. I ran into this problem when I was in a minor accident on my way to Mardi Gras one year, when I was rear-ended on the Interstate 55 somewhere between Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans. Everyone was OK, but I didn’t take the time to get contact information, which is one of the first things you should do after making sure everyone’s ok.
Talk to the Cops
The next thing you need to do is stay calm and talk to the police when they arrive. Make sure you get a copy of any reports the police make, or get a card from the responding officer and find out where you can get a copy of the report when it is complete.
This is especially important if you’re far away from home. It won’t be as easy as stopping by your local police station to get the report, after all.
Manage the Car
If the accident was severe and your car is undrivable, this can be a difficult step. You’ve got a few different options. You can sell your car to a junkyard and rent a vehicle to get you home. You can buy a new car on the spot and continue with your vacation. You can rent a U-Haul and a trailer to tow your damaged car home. You can even pay to have an auto transporter bring your car home.
Whatever you choose, the goal is the same: continuing with your vacation or getting home and still having the ability to get around.
Don’t forget to contact a lawyer, especially one that knows the area well. The last thing you want is for you to think that everything’s settled, and then find out the other person in the accident is claiming it’s your fault. An accident lawyer can help make sure you don’t end up paying, and also help make sure you get fair payment if you were injured.
No one wants to think about getting into a car accident, especially if you’re far from home. Just keep in mind that most of your steps are going to be exactly the same as if you had gotten into an accident close to home. The only big difference will be in what you do with your car if it is undrivable after the crash. Make sure you plan for this eventuality. Even if you don’t get into an accident, it’s still better to be prepared.