If you’re a college student preparing to head off to school, make sure you know the steps to take if you’re involved in a fender bender. Many students are away from home, and it’s possible they’re driving in unfamiliar weather conditions like snow and ice, or riding with an inexperienced driver. The probability of being in an accident is higher in younger populations, and the majority of on-campus residents are under the age of 25.
Step 1: Make sure you can access your identification and insurance
The driver is responsible for having up to date copies of the vehicle registration and proof of insurance. But even if you’re not driving, you should always carry some sort of identification like a driver’s license, and a health insurance card.
You don’t have to be in the car to be part of a car accident. Fatal accidents in New Jersey are most common for pedestrians between the ages of 20-34. So, make sure whenever you go out that you have updated emergency contact information in your phone. Most phones also allow you to enter current medications, any conditions you have, and health details like blood type. Keep a copy of your most recent HIPAA form accessible from the cloud so hospital employees can contact your parents if necessary.
Step 2: Call for help and pull off the road if it’s safe to do so
Once you’ve assessed your condition and the condition of the other driver, call 911 if necessary. Get checked out by first responders immediately if you suspect you might be injured. If you have flares or similar road safety items, consider using them and decide whether or not you can safely pull the car out of traffic. Be polite, don’t assign blame to anyone or try to discuss fault. If the police arrive, write down the name and badge number of the responding officers.
Step 3: Exchange documents
The most important information to gather in case of an accident is contact and insurance information. Be sure to get the full names of the driver, any passengers, and witnesses. Take a picture of the rear of the vehicle to quickly capture the make, model, color, and license plate. Drop a pin at the location so the insurance company will have accurate GPS coordinates.
Step 4: Take pictures and inform your auto insurer
If it’s safe to be outside of your vehicle, take photos before you move the vehicles. Try to capture one photo from your perspective as a driver. You can start the claim process immediately from your phone with most insurers. Follow up later with your insurance agent and add details as you learn more. In a simple fender bender with no injuries, it’s unlikely the police will respond, so you’ll need to submit an incident report to the state DMV office.
Step 5: Hire a personal injury lawyer
If you’re involved in an accident with severe injuries or fatalities, the associated medical bills and work loss costs can cause a financial burden on your family. In New Jersey, for example, young adults between the ages of 20-34 are involved in 51% of fatal accidents. Call an attorney to help you navigate the legal issues surrounding insurance payments and compensation loss.
The high concentration of young adults on college campuses makes your involvement in a car accident more likely. Whether you’re a pedestrian, passenger, or driver, it’s important that you are prepared and know what steps to take in case of an accident.
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