What to Do After Getting in a Car Accident


Many things in life are dreadful, and yet somehow also unavoidable, and car wrecks are definitely one of them. It almost seems like a right of passage. Everyday many drivers on the road manage to get into a collision. Wondering what to do after getting in a car accident?

The circumstances vary. But your action plan shouldn’t. If you have never been in an accident, or want to be prepared if you ever get into another fender bender, read on. Here’s what to do after getting in a car accident.

What to Do After Getting in a Car Accident: Putting Your Health and Safety First

Before we dive into the mechanics of who is liable, and what rental car companies offer supplemental coverage options, it’s important that you put your health and safety first. If you’re in an accident, pull over immediately. Even if it’s a minor collision, speeding off from the scene is illegal, and can land you in a load of trouble with the law. If your car has collided with the other vehicle or object and has slowed down for you, check your surroundings and exit the car as calmly as possible. If the car has stalled in a lane of traffic, wait until there are no cars around before exiting the car. Next, do a full-body scan. Are you hurt? Do you need medical attention? If so, now’s the time to call 911 for help.

Also, keep in mind, that you don’t have to be outright bleeding to be badly hurt. Concussions are quite common among car crash victims. Therefore, if you:

  • slammed your head on the dash or steering wheel
  • feel faint
  • are seeing stars
  • are experiencing blurry vision
  • feel like vomiting

…you may have a mild traumatic brain injury.

However, if you’re feeling stable, whip into action quickly!

Immediately after exiting your vehicle, protect the scene. Turn your flashers on, or set up some flares if you have any. This can protect other drivers on the road from crashing into your vehicle, and causing an even more catastrophic accident.

Wait for help to arrive — whether you’ve called an ambulance or the police —and take this time to capture some photos of the wreck. Write down key details such as the time of the accident or the name of the intersection of the road you’re on. You can also save this as a voice memo or type a note on your phone.

This is also the time you should approach the other driver — if there has been another driver involved — and exchange insurance information. This step will make reporting back to your own insurance company easier.

A few days following the accident make sure you start and keep a file filled with all of your important documents regarding this case. Keep it somewhere safe, dry, and easily accessible. You will need to reach for it when your insurance agent calls.

However, car accident cases can vary. For example, many people may not know what to do after getting in a car accident when it’s not their own car.

What to do After Getting in a Car Accident: The Truck Rental Aftermath

No matter how carefully you drive — yes, accidents happen. No one ever plans on getting into a wreck — especially if it’s not their own car. You’re taking a risk every time you get behind the wheel. While the information above is crucial, here’s what you need to know about wrecking a rental car, specifically. Handling the aftermath responsibly can ensure you go through a headache-free experience when dealing with the car or truck rental company to resolve this issue.

If an accident does occur, call the car rental company immediately and explain what happened. While many people may feel anxious having to explain the circumstance, don’t! This happens quite often, so know that the agent on the phone will give you precise instructions to follow.

They well tell you to drive the car back if it still runs fine. If not, call a towing service to haul it back to the rental company lot, or to an auto body shop. Now, you may be wondering what the cost is, and exactly who is liable for the damage?

What to Do After Getting in a Car Accident: Calculating Costs

Rental car accidents are unique cases. The rental car company is not always liable for the accident. This can be frustrating to hear, but it’s best to know the risks ahead of time than be caught off guard. So what to do after getting in a car accident?

After returning the car, you’ll have to file a claim with the rental car company. Similarly to a police report, you’ll have to fill in all of the details regarding your accident, such as:

  • who were the parties involved
  • when did the accident occur and where
  • who was responsible for the crash

This is where your file from earlier comes in handy!

The Costs and Your Coverage

Are you in charge of the collision repair? What about any other about auto body repair shop costs like window repair? This all boils down to which plan you selected when renting your car in the first place, so read the fine print before signing anything.

Most likely, you’ll be in charge of paying any fees out of pocket if the accident is your fault, as the car is your responsibility after you’ve rented it. This only applies to anyone driving without any coverage at all — which is the worst-case scenario and also illegal.

However, if you have taken the initiative to purchase insurance with your rental car company of choice, you’re covered. The company won’t, however, cover medical expenses or damaged property. Therefore, if your car insurance doesn’t include a car rental accident policy, opt for the extra fee from the rental place. If you want to opt-out of paying a high deductible through your own insurance, going this alternative route may also be a great idea.

It can save you a pretty penny.

Also, if you’re traveling abroad, your normal car insurance probably won’t cover an accident, so this is another instance where purchasing separate insurance could benefit you and save you from paying thousands of dollars.

Additional Costs When Crashing a Rental Car

When budgeting for the cost of your car and the insurance, also factor in some of these other costs.

Lose of use fees cover any lost revenue on the company’s end. Usually, when a car is out of service, the rental company will charge you this loss of revenue to make up for it. This can cost anywhere from an additional 20 to 50 dollars.

You may also be charged with ‘Diminution of Value Fees’, as the car has depreciated after the accident. Lastly, administrative fees may also apply to process your claim. These can shoot up to 150 dollars per day.

When Can You File a Claim Against the Company?

However, as a renter, you should know whether or not you can file a claim AGAINST the car rental company after your accident.

If the vehicle is poorly maintained, or dirty you may have a claim. If there are any illegal practices going on — for instance, the company is working with an uncertified mechanic, or they refuse to resolve a mechanical issue. — you could also have a claim.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the logistics, and wish to be fairly compensated for damages, you can hire a vehicle accident attorney moving forward.

Hiring a Vehicle Accident Attorney

Yes, you can hire a vehicle accident attorney when filing your claim. Working with a professional in the law benefits you after a collision, as they can help you get the compensation you deserve. Especially if your vacation or trip out of town has been ruined by a reckless or drunk driver.

But when should you take action? What to do after getting in a car accident, legally?

You want to find and hire a lawyer immediately. A good rule of thumb is around a week after the collision. You don’t want to forget any details of the accident; however, you also don’t want to reach a settlement with your car insurance or car rental company.

Also, a vehicle accident attorney can help you cover any lost wages or medical bills, so don’t miss your window. The deadline for filing a personal injury claim can vary from state to state, so if you’ve been hurt, act even sooner.

If this is your first time hiring an attorney, you should be able to find the right match by following these tips and taking these precautions.

You can find a great lawyer by browsing their reviews online. You can even ask around by word of mouth and see if any relatives have had any positive experiences with a certain attorney.

When meeting with your team of lawyers, make sure to keep an eye out for these red flags too.

If their fees are dramatically out of your budget, keep searching. If you suspect they may be billing you unethically — even for those short five-minute phone calls — they may not be a good fit.

If they have no experience in vehicle collision law, keep searching. It’s best to work with an attorney that specializes in automotive accidents, especially regarding a wrecked rental car, as things can get quite tricky.

What to Do After Getting in a Car Accident: Taking Additional Precautions

As previously stated, no one knows when or how an accident will occur, but you can always take precautions to ensure you and the rental car stay safe from harm.

  • refrain from tailgating the car in front of you
  • make sure all children are securely buckled or in car seats
  • do not play your music too loud, and stay alert
  • if you’re using the GPS feature on your phone, punch in the address before departing and not while you’re on the way there
  • always keep at least one hand on the steering wheel
  • signal when changing lanes
  • check both ways when backing out, since you can still collide with another vehicle while in a parking lot, not just on the freeway
  • if it’s your first time driving in a major city, don’t be afraid to call a taxi or rideshare instead
  • keep a twelve second distance between you and the other car (count the amount of time it takes the car in front of you to reach a marker on the road and adjust your speed accordingly)

What to Do After Getting in a Car Accident: The Wrap Up

If you’re planning to book a rental car soon — either for business or for pleasure — make sure to keep these tips in mind. While no one ever plans on wrecking their car, let alone a rental, you want to know exactly how you can protect yourself. Remember to check your health and wellbeing first, exit your vehicle, call for help, and make a record of everything.

Once the initial trauma of the accident has worn off, whip into action and find a qualified attorney who can walk you through the legal process after crashing your rental car. Armed with these precautions, you should be safe both physically and legally.

When asking yourself ‘what to do after getting in a car accident’, you should know the answer.

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