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As many people know, a motor vehicle collision can be a stressful experience, so it can be hard to remember what to do after a car accident.
Be Prepared. Here are First Action Steps to take After an Accident:
1. Stay calm & check for injuries
Make sure you and your passengers are safe and uninjured. If there's another vehicle involved in the accident, check to make sure that the driver and any passengers are OK too. Accidents are stressful, but keeping a calm, normal demeanor will help you stay in control of the situation.
2. Move impacted vehicles out of traffic
If your car is drivable, move it to the side of the road or as far away from traffic as possible while still remaining at the scene of the accident. Warn oncoming traffic using your hazard lights and/or setting up road flares.
3. Call the police to report the accident
Dial 911 and wait for the police to arrive.
Answers any questions so the police officer can file a police report.
Provide driver’s license and insurance information.
Tell the police exactly what happened and stick with the facts.
Ask for the name and badge number of all officers you engage with.
Request a copy of the police report for your insurance company.
If the police can't get to the scene or aren't dispatched, exchange information with the other driver. You can usually file a report yourself at your local police station or department of motor vehicles instead.
4. Exchange info & take pictures
While the police report provides official documentation of the crash, always take your own pictures of the damage to your vehicle, as well as pictures of any other vehicles involved as a part of your car accident checklist. Gather images from multiple angles to show exactly where any impact occurred. These images can help your claims representative determine who's at fault in the accident.
Be sure to get the name, address, phone number, and insurance information of the other driver. If possible, swap other information such as car makes and models, driver's license numbers, and license plate numbers. If there are third-party witnesses at the scene, politely ask for their contact information.
5. Start the claims process
Regardless of who's at fault, it's a good idea to inform your car insurance company that an accident occurred. Keep in mind that it's your choice whether to file an auto insurance claim with your insurer or the other driver's insurer. You can also file a car insurance claim without filing a police report. Generally, your insurer just needs some basic information about the accident to open a claim, including any pictures you took of the damage. A claims representative will be assigned to you and will help you through the claims process.
Consider adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to your auto policy to help minimize your costs if you have an accident with another driver who doesn't carry auto insurance. In many states, uninsured motorist coverage is required for all drivers. Learn more about car insurance requirements by state.