When you’ve been in a car accident, it’s common to have a thousand thoughts and emotions running through your mind at the same time, leaving you shaken up and not sure what to do next. At Sagen & Associates Insurance, our first hope is that you never have to experience a motor vehicle collision, but because we know that almost every driver will, our second hope is that you’re prepared in advance to navigate the aftermath.
This blog post walks you through the most important steps you can take after an accident.
1. Stay Calm
The shock of a car accident can make it challenging to stay calm. You may feel guilt, anger, frustration, or worry in the moments following the impact. It’s important to take a deep breath, remind yourself that you know what to do, and then get to work on your checklist as calmly as you can.
2. Move to Safety
Take a look around. Is your vehicle in a safe place? Are you at risk of being hit by oncoming traffic? Is your vehicle in working order?
- If your vehicle is at risk of being hit and in working order, pull off the roadway and to a safer place on the shoulder, or in a nearby parking lot.
- If your vehicle is at risk of being hit and not in working order, turn on your flashers, exit the vehicle if you can, and move to a safe place.
- If your vehicle can’t be moved and you’re unable to exit, simply turn on your flashers.
3. Get Help
Whether there are injuries are not, call 911 to report the accident and file a police report. Be prepared to tell the dispatcher your name and phone number; as well as where the accident occurred, and whether anybody is hurt. Follow the instructions he or she provides to you (which may include some of the things on this list).
4. Exchange Personal Info
If another car was involved, exchange important details on the scene. Things you’ll need to know (and share with the other driver) include:
- the driver’s name
- the driver’s phone number
- the license plate number
- the make, model, and color of the vehicle
- the insurance company name and policy number
- the names and contact information of any passengers
While exchanging information with the other driver, take special care not to discuss the details of the accident, apologize for your role in it, blame the other driver, or blame yourself. Adrenaline may prevent you from understanding what really happened right after the impact, but a crash investigation should reveal the factors that caused the accident and ensure the right party – if any – is held liable.
5. Document the Scene
Take time to document the scene of the accident thoroughly. Things that could be helpful later include photos of the damage, the police officer’s name and badge number, the police report number, and the license plate number of any vehicles involved in the crash or who may have witnessed the crash.
6. File a Police Report
When a law enforcement officer reports to the scene, provide any information and/or documentation requested of you, but don’t tell the officer that you were at fault for the accident. Allow him or her to assess the scene and determine what happened.
Once you leave the scene, your agent can help you file a claim with your insurance company.