As the COVID-19 pandemic has created less traffic and congestion on the roads because of the majority staying home, there will unfortunately still be incidents where drivers are involved in collisions. Learning how to maintain social distancing after an auto accident is important.
Normally in the situation of a vehicle collision, those involved would exit their vehicles, exchange information and sometimes talk to other uninvolved drivers who are offering on-site care or serving as witnesses.
Now with the six feet apart recommendation created by the CDC, here’s some tips and tricks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Even in the event of an auto accident.
The most crucial thing immediately following a car accident is safety. If possible, when the vehicular damage is minor, try to pull off to the side of the road to safely exchange information with the other driver while causing minimal traffic on the road.
Shift into park, turn off your vehicle, and then proceed. Stress and adrenaline can run high following a car accident, it’s important to take a deep breath and assess the situation.
- Are you injured? Are any passengers (if any) injured?
- Is the roadway clear? Is it safe for you to get out of your vehicle?
- How bad is the damage to your vehicle?
Adrenaline can make a person feel as though their injuries are not as severe as they really are.
If you get into an accident and feel as though you are injured, even if you don’t think it’s a bad injury, it might be in your best interest to call 911 and wait for a paramedic to arrive before exiting the vehicle. It’s always better safe than sorry in these situations.
If there are any injuries, if the vehicular damage is severe, or if state law requires car accidents to be reported to the police, then call 911 and wait for them to arrive on scene.
They will send paramedics to tend to all involved parties, a cleanup crew to deal with the wreckage, and a police officer to assess the situation and determine who was at fault.
Follow COVID Guidelines When Possible
When you do make the determination that it is safe to exit your vehicle, try to maintain the CDC’s recommended 6-feet social distancing guidelines.
If you have one with you, it is also recommended to wear a mask when interacting with anyone who is at, or who arrives at, the scene of the accident. This is just an extra measure of precaution that will significantly decrease the risk of spreading the illness among other people at the scene.
Do not shake hands with other parties and touch your own eyes, nose, and mouth.
It is especially crucial to follow these recommendations if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, which have been directly linked to the coronavirus:
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
Exchange Information Safely
While exchanging information with the other party, or parties, involved, it is recommended that you use your smartphone instead of using pen and paper.
While socially distanced, you can ask the other driver(s) to provide you with their information while you input it into your phone, and vice versa.
This is just safer than handling the same pen and paper in the event that one of the involved parties is infected.
The information you may want to gather at the scene of the accident are as follows:
- The driver’s (and any passengers’) name and contact information
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle driven
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance company (and policy number)
- Names and contact information for any witnesses
- Location of accident
Additionally, be sure to take plenty of your own photos at the scene of the accident.
It’s okay to exchange photos with the other parties later, but it’s also crucial to take your own, as well. Do not sign anything on the scene unless it is provided to you by a police officer.
File Accident Digitally
Luckily, in the digital age, most insurance companies will allow you to file car accident claims online or even through a mobile app.
This is particularly useful in the current pandemic, seeing as people should be minimizing the amount of time they spent interacting with strangers in person. The technicalities of filing digitally will vary slightly depending on the insurance company, but the basic premise is the same.
First, you will file a claim. This is a formal request that you send to your insurance company to let them know exactly what happened and tell them that you need money for the repairs – this is what car insurance is for.
You will likely be asked to provide as many details as possible, this is because you will likely remember the most while the accident is still recent. This is why it’s so crucial to document everything you can while on the scene.
Additionally, if the police were called, their report will paint a great picture of what exactly happened and this we’ll help the insurance company figure out how to proceed.
However, filing a claim is only necessary when one of the following is true:
- Your vehicle is a total loss, needing repairs that will cost more than what the vehicle is worth.
- Someone was injured in the accident.
- It is unclear who was at fault for the accident.
After you have filed a claim, an insurance adjuster will be sent out to assess the accident and determine how to proceed. They will investigate the accident and the damage that was done to both vehicles.
They will do their best to get to the bottom of what happened as quickly as possible, as being without a method of transportation is a time sensitive matter, and then they will use that information to recommend to the insurance company how much they should give you.
In the event that you are dealing with another insurance company’s adjuster, remember that their goal is to spend as little money as possible.
Do not downplay your injuries or vehicular damages. Be completely open and honest with them about the effects of the car accident. Also, document everything just in case they try to downplay the situation.
Car repair following an auto accident is crucial. If you leave an issue unfixed, it can worsen overtime and cause you issues down the road.
It is also incredibly dangerous to drive a damaged car. However, in the midst of a pandemic, you may be hesitant to have a mechanic working on your car for a long period of time.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the safety guidelines followed to prevent the spread of the virus at their shop.
- Are there any services they are not providing during the pandemic?
- Are they having their employees fill out a symptom survey? Are they letting employees with any symptoms work?
- What kind of safety measures are they using to prevent the spread of any germs – especially while working inside your car? Can they guarantee masks are being worn even during the repair?
- Can you provide payment information and insurance information over the phone to minimize in-person contact?
Prior to the repair, you may even be able to send photos to a mechanic to get a quote without having to interact in person. This is a great way to pick a shop that best suits your needs without having to pay them all visits in person.
While retrieving your car, make sure you are wearing a mask to keep yourself, the employees, and other shop patrons safe. If possible, you can even bring gloves and disinfectant wipes to clean the inside of your car before leaving the shop.
This may seem excessive or unnecessary, but the last thing you want to do while dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is deal with the symptoms of the coronavirus, as well.
Over the past several months, we have had to adapt to doing things in a different way to minimize the spread of COVID-19. There is a way to handle an automobile accident while still preventing the spread of the virus.
At the end of the day, you need to follow the guidelines that have been set in place everywhere. Wear your mask and keep at least a 6-foot distance between yourself and those outside of your household.
Do things digitally when it’s possible, wash your hands often, and utilize your common sense – if you are symptomatic, self isolate.
Dealing with a car accident is stressful enough, you can alleviate some of that stress by interacting with all people involved in the aftermath as safely as possible to keep yourself and them safe during these uncertain times.
Contact Us Today
In the event of an auto accident, East End Auto Body is here to help. For collision repair, or car detailing after an accident, we’re here for you!
Visit our website, or call us at 304-525-5361.