By guest writer Erik Abrahamson
For any motorist, the risk of car accidents is an undeniable reality. Despite doing everything we can to avoid them, sometimes they just happen. Still, as a motorist, you can take certain steps to remain proactive against car accidents. These nine tips can help you both avoid an accident on the one hand and, on the other hand, prepare yourself should you ever find yourself in one.
Conduct Regular Maintenance
Conducting regular maintenance on your car helps your car run better. A malfunctioning vehicle on the road can create a dangerous situation quickly. Thus, making sure your car runs smoothly can help you avoid danger. Consult a trusted mechanic for regular maintenance, and be sure to follow your car manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule. Most oil changes include a basic inspection of your vehicle, so following up on them alone can give you peace of mind.
Line Up a Car Accident Attorney Ahead of Time
After an accident, you may need to hire an attorney to help with the claims process. You may be fine without an attorney, but establishing a relationship with a car accident attorney you trust can help alleviate some of the stress that inevitably comes with a car accident of any kind. If you already have a car accident attorney lined up, sifting through local attorneys to find the right one is one less thing for you to worry about after an accident. The National Motorists Association homepage has a tool to help you find a car accident lawyer in your area.
Review Your Insurance Policy
If you know your insurance policy’s details, you will know what to expect from your insurance provider after an accident. Like lining up a car accident attorney, knowing the ins and outs of your automobile insurance policy can give you peace of mind. Knowing your insurance policy’s details also means one less thing for you to worry about after your accident.
Upgrade Your Insurance Policy
If you want even more peace of mind as a driver, consider upgrading your car insurance policy. Many motorists have the bare minimum coverage that their state requires. However, this sometimes leaves gaps in your insurance coverage. Some motorists find after an accident that they don’t have the extent of coverage they thought they did, which compounds the challenge of an already difficult situation. Some “extras” to consider adding to your automobile insurance policy include:
- Roadside assistance,
- Minor violation forgiveness,
- Rental insurance,
- Guaranteed auto protection (gap) coverage,
- Comprehensive coverage, and
- Collision coverage.
These “extras” will add to your monthly insurance bill but could save your wallet from further headaches in the event of an accident. Contact your insurance provider to discuss potential upgrades to your policy.
Maintain a Record of Maintenance
Keeping a record of the maintenance you perform on your vehicle can help you prove your vehicle’s value after an accident. If an accident “totals” your vehicle, an insurance company will have a range of value that they assign to your car. If your car is in poor condition before an accident, the insurance payout will be far less than if the vehicle is in excellent condition before the accident. If your car is totaled, it may look like it was not well taken care of prior to the accident, but you can show otherwise if you have a maintenance record. A maintenance record is one of a few tools that you can use to prove your car’s value. It may not convince the insurance company by itself, but it is a useful piece of evidence.
Maintain a Record of Vehicle Appearance
After a car accident, the person who hit you or their insurance company may try to claim that the accident itself did not cause a certain dent or blemish. If you take pictures of different parts of your car regularly and maintain a record of those photographs, you can show that any damage that is called into question was caused by the accident. An opposing insurance company’s primary goal is to minimize the amount of money they have to pay out. They may use different strategies to achieve this goal, including claiming that damage to your car is pre-existing. Taking regular photos of your vehicle helps you prepare to fight for the compensation you deserve. If you need to file a lawsuit, these photographs and other records will help your lawyer immensely.
Inspect Your Vehicle Regularly
Regularly conducting visible inspections of your vehicle can help you avoid a catastrophic failure on the road. If you notice brakes are squeaking, have a mechanic check them out. Additionally, make sure all the lights on your vehicle are in working order. If other cars can’t see you, they will have a hard time avoiding you on the road. Even a relatively minor mechanical failure on the road can put your safety in jeopardy. If you notice something off about your car while you’re driving it, it can distract you. A split-second distraction can easily cause an accident. This simple step of visually inspecting your vehicle on a regular basis can go a long way toward preventing a car accident.
Use a Dashboard Camera
After an accident, people don’t always agree on what happened to cause it. Even worse, sometimes people lie. Witnesses might misinterpret what they saw in the accident too. To counter any false narrative surrounding a car accident, it helps to have a dashboard camera and even a rear-view camera. If the accident report contains faulty information, your video footage will help counter it. Video evidence is hard to dispute. A dashboard camera may even help if someone vandalizes your car or if someone tries to hurt you in a fit of road rage. Dashboard cameras are available for less than $50.00, so it’s a relatively inexpensive investment that can pay off in times of crisis.
Perhaps the most important step you can take to be more proactive against car accidents is to drive carefully. Unlike other things that cause accidents on the road, driving carefully is solely under your control. Follow the rules of the road, look both ways before you cross an intersection, don’t drive aggressively, and use your blinker when you drive. Avoid texting while driving and engaging in other distracting activities. Consider going a step further and taking a defensive driving course in your area. Taking these simple steps could save your life.
Erik Abrahamson is a car accident lawyer at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Personal Injury Law in Tampa, FL. Erik has assisted clients in Tampa and the Greater Tampa area with personal injury cases for over 30 years. Check out Abrahamson & Uiterwyk on Facebook.