After an auto accident, staying calm and thinking clearly can be hard to do. Still, there are certain steps you should take. These steps will guide you through decisions you’ll need to make after your accident, whether you’re at fault or not.
Check Yourself and Others for Injuries
If you or someone else in your car is seriously injured, call 911. If you cannot move, ask a bystander to call for help.
Move to Safety
If you are able, move to the side of the road or onto a sidewalk. If your car is driveable and still in traffic, move it to the side of the road. If your car cannot be moved, leave it where it is and stand in a safe place.
Notify the Authorities
In many states, any accident that causes $500 or more in property damage must be reported to the police. This amount covers the majority of accidents in the state.
If an uninsured driver is involved, the police must also be called.
The responding officers will fill out an accident report and document the scene. If police cannot come, go to the nearest police station and file an accident report yourself. This report may be helpful when you start your insurance claim, as they may ask for a copy of it.
Wait for Help
If your motor is still running, turn it off. Turn on your hazard lights to warn other vehicles to slow down. Wait for the authorities to arrive.
Once you’re sure that you and your passengers are safe, exchange insurance and contact information with other drivers involved in the crash.
Here’s the most important information you should collect:
- Full name and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license number
- Car tag number
- Type, color, and model of the vehicle
- Accident location
Don’t try to decide who is at fault — the police or insurance agency will determine that when you file your claim.
Document the Scene
Get the names of the police officers who come to the scene, and ask them how to obtain a copy of the accident report. Take pictures of the crash and surrounding area from different angles.
It can also be helpful to get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the crash.
Notify Your Insurer to Start the Claims Process
Call your insurance agent to notify them of the accident. They can tell you what to expect during the claims process. Usually, they will tell you to get an estimate from an auto repair shop like American Automotive. This can help to expedite the process.
Being in an automobile accident can be harrowing, but following these steps can ensure you stay safe, follow the law, and get the help you need.