Everyone, no matter how good a driver they may be, gets into an auto accident from time to time. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And while we all think we know what to do when the time comes, few of us are prepared for the nerves, anxiousness, fear, and uncertainty an accident with a stranger in a strange place can bring. But don’t fret, as the below tips can help you get through an often dizzying and confusing process.
First: Keep a small note pad with the below list in the car to take the stress of having to remember it all:
Assess the Scene / Notify Authorities.
a. Check yourself and any passengers for injuries. If anyone is hurt or the accident is serious call 911.
b. If the accident is minor, call the police & file a police report upon arrival. Be sure to get a copy. If your city’s police department doesn’t dispatch to minor accidents file your own police report afterward at a local station.
c. Notify your insurer. They may give you further instructions.
Get to Safety
a. If your car is operational, turn on hazard lights and safely move to the shoulder, a driveway, or adjacent parking lot – anywhere you are not obstructing traffic.
b. If your car is non-operational, turn on hazard lights and assess traffic, identify safest way to exit, and do so only when confident it is safe. If surrounded by traffic and car appears safe, remain in your car until help arrives.
Limit Your Conversation with Other Participants
a. Do not admit fault, even if you may be.
b. Do not say you’re okay. Many injuries are first felt long after the accident when your adrenaline as subsided. If pressed, just say you’re not sure; that you’re shook up.
c. Limit conversation to facts only.
d. Do NOT sign any documents unless it is from the police or YOUR Insurance agent.
a. Ask for the other driver(s)’ Driver’s License, Registration, and Insurance Card/Info. Take a picture of each or write the information down. Double check it. If name on Registration is different from Driver, note it. Inquire to relationship.
b. Record all Makes, Models and License plate numbers of all vehicles involved.
c. Record Names, Phone Numbers, Addresses & Email Address for all Drivers, Occupants, and Witnesses.
d. Take pictures of your damage from different angles.
e. Take a picture of others’ damage from different angles.
f. Take pictures of all involved license plates.
g. Take pictures of the scene.
h. If other driver(s) refuse to turn over Driver’s License (not a legal requirement in some states), take a picture of them when taking pictures of the scene/autos. You’ll be able to prove they were there.
i. Briefly write (or record into your phone) what you were doing prior to the collision, detail what happened, and document the damage to each vehicle.
a. If you haven’t already, immediately report accident with your insurance company, regardless of fault. Get contact information for your customer service rep. and follow instructions for getting your car repaired.
b. If police did not report to the scene, file a report with your local station.
c. If you begin to feel pain as a result of the accident, see your doctor for an examination. If the pain is severe, go to your nearest emergency room.