We drive by car accidents all the time, often trying to get a glimpse to figure out what happened. But do you know what to do if YOU are involved in an auto accident? Below is a list of things to keep in mind if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.
- Stop! Always stop after an accident! Failure to stop at an accident in which you are involved is considered a hit and run and is a crime. Just being involved in an accident is a scary thing, but leaving the scene of an accident will not make things better. Stop your car, take a breath, and then get out of the car (if you can) to assess any injuries, damage, and the overall situation.
- Immediately evaluate the injuries of everyone involved in the accident and call 911. 911 will dispatch the appropriate emergency personnel for injuries and will dispatch police to the scene. Policies vary from state to state, depending on the location of your accident. Some police departments don’t compile a police report if there are no injuries and/or damages involved. However, if the police need to take your statement, be honest and state just the FACTS of the accident as you remember them.
- To promote safety, move cars out of the roadway and out of the way of moving vehicles. If this is not possible, put hazard lights on and remain in a safe area until help arrives: either in the car with seatbelts on or out of the car in a safe area off of the road. If you have access to flares or cones, put them on the road to alert motorists of obstructions to the roadway.
- Document the accident. This is easy to do in this day and age of technology. Take pictures from all angles of the vehicles and especially damage to the vehicles. Some people recommend keeping a one-time use camera in your glovebox for this reason. However, with smart phones so widely used, most people have access to take pictures with their phone. To better document the accident, if there were any witnesses present, try to get their names and numbers. This will all come in handy if there is a dispute regarding who’s at fault.
- Exchange information. You will want to exchange as much information as you can with the other drivers involved in the accident. The most vital information includes driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, insurance information, tag number. Also, obtain the name, address and phone number of each passenger of any vehicle involved in the accident. Make sure all the information you get and give is current, including the expiration date of all auto insurance.
- Contact the insurance company. Call your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company and report the accident. You will want to have all the information you exchanged with the other driver to give a detailed report. The insurance company will want a statement regarding the accident. Whenever you give a statement about the accident, be sure to state only the FACTS of the accident as you remember them. Later, if there is a question of fault, your statement should be essentially the same regardless of when and to whom it was given.
- Keep all documents regarding car repairs and medical expenses. There will most likely be repairs needed to your car, so keep all your quotes and any bills that pertain to the repair of your vehicle, including a rental car if one was used. Since many accidents involve injuries as well, seek medical attention for yourself and/or any of your passengers immediately. Document and keep records of any medical treatment and expenses as a result of this accident.
Car accidents can be worrisome, especially if an injury is involved. Hopefully, you never have to deal with an accident! However, if you find yourself involved in an auto accident, these tips should help you get through the process a little easier.
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