Most times after an accident, the drivers and passengers of vehicles are shaken up and it can be hard to remember what to do next.
First, a reminder to be sensible with your priorities. After an accident, the biggest issue is everyone's safety, including assisting with injuries, as well as getting everyone out of harm's way. Remember, people first, and then worry about getting accident information.
If a passenger is injured the first step is to call 911 and make sure the injured person gets the medical attention that they need.
If police arrive on scene, they will file a police report, a police report will help your claims adjuster determine who is at fault. If there are no injuries and the police can not come out to file a report, there are other steps that are helpful when filing a claim.
- STOP! Even if the accident is minor.
- Make sure you are in a safe spot. If you are not able to move to the side of the road, try your best to protect the scene in order to prevent other accidents. Turn on your hazard lights or use a flare or flashlights if you have them. If the vehicles are not interfering with traffic they should remain where they are. This will help when taking pictures to clearly show the scene of the accident.
- Check for injuries. If anyone is injured immediately call 911. Even if there are no serious injuries, it is a good idea to call the police. Having a police report is very helpful to the claim adjusters when filing a claim. The police will take a detailed report that your claims adjuster will be able to obtain.
- Make a statement. If the police arrive, make sure you communicate exactly what happened. If there is something you do not know, make sure you say you do not know. Do not provide false information. If the police do not arrive at the scene of the accident, take detailed notes in your phone, record a voice memo, write your statement down. It is amazing how much we can forget even a few hours or days later.
- Take Pictures. Many of us have smart phones, use them! Take clear photos of the accident. If there is damage to the vehicle take closeup photos of the damage but do not forget to get a photo of the scene of the accident. This could be helpful in determining who is at fault.
- Exchange Information! This is very important. Here is the information that you should obtain:
- Drivers License. This will give you the other drives name, address and driver's license number.
- License Plate Number. The make, model, and color of the vehicle is also helpful.
- Copy of the other party's insurance information. If they do not have a copy in their vehicle ask for the name of their insurance provider or the name of their insurance agency and their agent's name.
- Contact information for the other party. Make sure you get a valid phone number. If you can call them at the scene to make sure the number is valid, even better!
- How many people were in the car? It is important to note how many people were involved in the accident. Write down the people you see and names if possible.
- Witness statements. If you have a credible witness, make sure you obtain their information as well. This can be very helpful in determining fault.
- File a claim. It is important to contact your insurance company and file a claim quickly. The other party should be encouraged to the same. Even if the accident is minor and you decide to not use your insurance, it is always best practice to file the claim directly with your insurance company. Once you are assigned a claims adjuster, you can send them all documentation that you obtained at the scene of the accident.
An accident can leave even the most seasoned driver frazzled, but following these steps may help protect you from unnecessary worries. That way, you can focus on working with your insurance company to get your vehicle repaired as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
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