No one likes to think about getting into a car accident, but they do happen. On average, there are 6 million car accidents in the United States every year if you include collisions with vehicles, pedestrians, animals, buildings and other obstacles. It’s easy to know what to do if you crash into another person — you trade insurance information, seek medical attention and contact your insurance company — but what do you do if you hit a building?
For low-speed accidents, you may be able to skip this step, but take the time to assess any potential injuries. Even accidents at low speed can cause soft-tissue damage in the neck, commonly called whiplash. The symptoms of whiplash or other soft-tissue injuries can take days or weeks to appear, so even if you don’t feel like you’re hurt, be careful anyway.
If you feel like you can safely move, then it’s time to proceed to the next step.
Take a Look at The Damage
If you can safely get out of your car, your next step is to assess the damage caused by your accident. This could be minor, depending on the speed of the crash, or it could be more severe.
If the building you crash into is your own home, things get a little more complicated. Backing into your garage door in the morning is more common than you might think. Before you move your car, take a look at the inside and outside of the garage door. Make sure it is still on its tracks and that there is no damage to the springs or lifting cables. If there is no visible damage, move your car and try to open and close the door. If it operates smoothly, you likely won’t need to repair anything except the damage to the door itself. If it doesn’t, it’s time to call a professional.
If you strike a building owned by another person, you will need to provide your information to the building owner. They will likely want to contact your insurance agency.
Let the Insurance Handle It
Once you’ve provided your information to the building owner — or your own insurance company — the next step is to sit back and let the insurance companies handle things.
While the insurance company is doing its job, take the time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Not only can symptoms from a car accident take days or weeks to appear, but also the longer you wait after a crash, the harder it becomes to prove the injuries are directly related to the accident. Having a paper trail makes it easier for the insurance company to make their decision about things like reimbursements.
Being prepared for a car accident can help you be ready when they do inevitably occur. Don’t leave the scene, and take plenty of pictures before and after you move your car. Accidents will happen, but don’t let that scare you away from driving.
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