How You Should Deal with a Car Accident While Traveling

Let’s imagine a scenario. You’ve decided you’re going on a road trip with your family. Maybe you’re headed somewhere warm where you can lie on the beach for a week. Perhaps you’re visiting relatives who you haven’t seen for a few years.

While you’re driving, you have a minor car accident. Maybe you’re changing lanes on the highway, and another vehicle brushes by you, making a little bit of contact. Perhaps it happens when you’re on a local road instead.

In these situations, you must know the best course of action. We’ll discuss that right now.

Will You Need a Lawyer?

Hiring lawyers following minor car accidents sometimes becomes necessary, but not always. Usually, whether or not you need one depends on whether the at-fault driver admits they caused the accident and whether they have the proper amount of insurance.

We will say that the driver of the car who hit you while you were on this road trip caused the accident. They didn’t use their turn signal before changing lanes, so they sideswiped you. It was a minor collision, but your car still sustained some damage.

If the other driver has the proper insurance and they admit they caused the wreck, it is not likely you must make a court appearance. Consequently, you probably don’t need a lawyer. It’s when the other driver doesn’t have insurance or they won’t admit they caused the accident that you’ll typically need legal representation.

Get Off the Road

Thinking again about that scenario where a car hits you while you’re traveling, you must first pull over and get off the road. You must get out of the active roadway if you can. If you leave the vehicle there, you might cause another accident if another driver approaches at a high speed and they’re not paying close enough attention.

If you’re on the highway, you can pull onto the shoulder. Get as far away from the active traffic lanes as you can. If you’re on a local road when this happens, find somewhere where you can park the car so that it’s out of the way. Maybe you can find a parking space or parking lot.

Don’t ever flee the scene. That’s a felony, and you never want that kind of legal trouble.

See Whether You or the Other Driver Have Any Injuries

Once you have your car off the road and out of the way of other passing vehicles, you can assess your condition. Did the crash hurt you or any of your family members? Check for any bumps, bruises, cuts, or broken bones. In minor car accidents, you probably didn’t sustain any severe injuries.

Next, you can check the other car’s driver and passengers. You can establish communication with them. Hopefully, they’re reasonable and not irate because of what happened. You’ll occasionally encounter a driver who gets angry if they’re in a car wreck, whether they caused it or not. In that situation, give them some space till the police and medical personnel get there.  

Call 911

Now, you can call 911. That is the best resource you can use if you have a car wreck while traveling because it will always connect you to the local authorities. You can tell them your location and what happened. The operator might have you stay on the line till the police get there, or they may get the required information from you and then end the call.

Either way, you should relay what happened and whether you need medical assistance. It’s likely the operator will send medical personnel as well as the police, but if you have injuries, you must make sure an ambulance comes without delay.

Tell the Authorities What Happened

When the cops arrive, you can tell them what happened. Tell the truth, and don’t omit any details. You must show the authorities your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and the car’s registration.

The police will take your statement, and the other driver’s as well. Then, you must determine whether you can still drive your car.

If you were at home, you could get a tow truck and have the driver take the vehicle to the nearest repair shop. If there’s very little damage, you could also drive the car home on your own.

It’s similar if you get into a minor accident while traveling, except you probably won’t know the nearest tow truck service. You might ask the police, or you can Google it and see what comes up if you can’t drive your car because it’s damaged.

If you can’t drive your car, you must get a tow truck and a ride to the auto body shop. Maybe the cops can give you and your family a lift, or you might call an Uber if necessary.

How Car Wrecks While You’re Traveling Differ from Ones in Your Home Town

Most of these steps remain the same whether you got into a minor car accident in your home town or while traveling. If you get into a car wreck while on a road trip, though, you obviously can’t drive home, even if the other driver didn’t damage your vehicle very much.

The real difference between getting into a car wreck while traveling and getting into one in your home town should now come into play. If you can’t keep driving the car because it needs replacement parts, you must wait while the auto body shop fixes it. If they don’t have the parts, maybe they can order them. If that happens, you must put your vacation plans on hold and find a hotel in the area.

If the other driver doesn’t admit they caused the wreck, you may also have to come back to this part of the country for a court date. That’s always a pain, but it’s the procedure you must follow if a driver hits your car and won’t admit fault while you’re on a family road trip.

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