The first time you get into an accident in your car, even if it's just a little fender bender, and whether it's your fault or not, it can be a little embarrassing, and of course, a little scary.
Navigating the immediate and long-term aftermath of your accident is the hard part, but these quick tips should help you to get a grip on the situation.
Are You Okay?
If you've just experienced your first accident, the very first thing to do is check and make sure you're okay. Don't get out of the car, don't move around, just stop and focus, feel for pain, soreness, broken bones, bruises and cuts. Take a look in the mirror and make sure you're okay before taking the next step.
Not every accident goes through insurance. Sometimes a small fender bender might leave nothing but a little scratched paint or a barely visible ding. In any event, you'll need to step out of the car, see what sort of damage you and the other driver (if it's a two car accident) have sustained, and determine exactly what happened. Don't argue with the other driver, and don't agree with their story verbally, just try to figure it out for yourself: who hit who and how? Make some notes if you have some paper handy, or record them with an app on your phone, because you need to get it straight right now while it's clear in your mind. Your phone probably has a camera on it, so take pictures of the accident, including close-ups of all the relevant details.
Tell the Truth
Even a tiny white lie can blow up into insurance fraud if you're not careful, so it's generally a better idea to tell the truth when talking an incident over with your insurer, your attorney, the other driver, the police, even your friends and family. You might not want to admit that you ran into that fire hydrant because you were swatting at a fly, but it beats dealing with the confusion and the potential legal penalties of not being forthcoming about your accident.
Dealing with the Damages
Your insurance provider, or the other driver's, may cut you a check to handle all of the repairs. It's important to report those damages and get them repaired as soon as possible. A smashed rearview mirror may not seem like a big deal, but it makes it all the more likely that your first accident won't be your last, so take the time to hit the garage and get everything taken care of as soon as you possibly can.
Learning from Experience
Even the safest drivers typically have one small incident under their belts. Maybe their accident cost them nothing more than a busted headlight and a new garbage can, but it's only through experience that we become better drivers. So after your first accident, take a moment to appreciate the fact that you only have to go through your first accident once.
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