12 Things No One Tells You After Your First Car Accident

The morning starts like any other. I got ready rushing to get out the door to start my day. Get dressed, brush my teeth, listen to The Greatest Showman soundtrack. I walk out to the car thinking about how much I hated those two dents in my front bumper from a tiny mishap years ago. "How much would it be to get that repaired?"

The time is ticking to get where I need to be. I start driving and trivial thoughts begin to take over my mind. It snowed a few days ago. "Is there any more in the forecast? I should probably check." I turn onto the same road I take every day to get where I need to be. The road's still pretty icy from the storm. "I guess the salt trucks forgot this road existed." I drive just around the bend I've driven through a hundred times. But this time it's different. Very different. 

I lose a little bit of control and quickly try to gain it back. Turning the wheel in another direction, I pray it does something. Soon after uncontrollably sliding into the opposite lane,  I notice another car approaching. At this moment, everything becomes a blur. All you can do is brace for impact and hope for the best. A few seconds (that feels like an eternity) later, you're able to gain back control and pull off to the side.

You get out and inspect the damage while the person yelling in anger and frustration behind you muffles and you can only think, why is this happening to ME? It's always someone else but now it's me? You soak in the fact that what just happened is the inevitable reality and you just want it to be over.

People will tell you all the time about what to do after an accident regarding the practical side of dealing with police, insurance, and the whole 9 yards. What no one told me was what it can do to you mentally. Here are some things I learned after my first car accident.

1. Pretty much everything you've been taught about accident etiquette leaves your head.

This can easily vary depending on the person you are. But when you drive past accidents and think to yourself, "Here's how I'll do it." Odds are it'll be the opposite. Everything you've planned in case of an emergency goes out the window.
Sidenote: I called my boyfriend when it happened and when he came to the scene, he had a pre-typed checklist of everything that should be done after an accident. This came in handy in making sure we didn't forget anything. I highly recommend making one of these in case you're ever caught in this situation.

2. You'll want to say you're sorry till you're blue in the face.

If you're anything like me, you apologize for just about anything and everything. It says in bold on insurance cards to never admit fault. Because of this, you may feel torn.
Lifehack: A better way to apologize in a way that's appropriate for this situation is saying "Are you okay? Is there anything I can help you with?" You might get a snarky comment here but it's the thought that counts, right?

3. Waiting for help to arrive will be awkward.

Waiting 15 minutes or more for a police officer to arrive at the scene with the person you just severely inconvenienced will probably be in the top ten most uncomfortable experiences of your entire life. It will feel like a year. This is a good time to call people who can come to help you. Oh, and the person you just realized you were supposed to meet up with. They're probably just as confused as you are.

4. You'll realize all the equipment you've had in your car forever actually does come in handy.

You'll also discover emergency equipment in your car you didn't even know you had. Don't feel stupid. You're learning a lot right now and let the people you called help you out.

5. You'll be surprised how many people nearly get in the same accident you were in by staring at your accident.

People don't care. They'll stare and nearly repeat your mistake. It's human nature.

6. You're going to understand every single person who drives like an old lady on a Sunday morning.

You'll most likely be going under the speed limit for quite some time. Possibly for the first time.

7. Don't take family for granted.

After you arrive back home, you're going to remember how grateful you are for your family and remind yourself you should never take them for granted.

8. You won't want to be alone.

Some people may be able to bounce back right after an accident. However, there's mental trauma tied in with a car accident. It's a fact of life but that doesn't make it any less scary. I spent the afternoon after with my family. You'll want to distract your mind as much as possible.

9. After everything's said and done, you realize you're going to have to eventually drive again.

This could be a few days later, or right after it happens. You're going to feel like you've had your license revoked and you shouldn't be allowed to drive again.

10. When you drive again, it's okay to feel scared.

I got back on the road that night to head to my job a half hour away, and it's natural to feel scared like you can't do it. You will be oversensitive driving over potholes, having to make unexpected turns, but the best thing to do is just breathe, listen to your favorite music and it'll be over before you know it.

11. The accident will play over and over again in your head.

You won't be able to stop thinking about it and all of the what-ifs. In these moments, try to remember that it's in the past now and there's nothing you can do to fix it. The best thing you can do for yourself is to focus on the present and the future. If you have to pay for damages, set goals about how you'll be paying for it.

12. As long as you're not hurt, everything is okay.

In the end, the financial burden, the stress and trauma of it all will eventually fade away. All that matters is that you and the other people involved are okay.

That's the list. Hopefully, this can come in handy for you. BUT hopefully, it doesn't have to. And remember just a disclaimer, this is not legal advice! Take everything said here with a grain of salt :-)

Accidents are scary life lessons to be grateful for what you have. They're not fun but you know more now as an adult! We're lucky to be able to learn from our experiences.

Until next time, 
Onward and Upward!


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