You have to follow specific steps when you get to a car accident to ensure everyone is safe, follow the law, and start the insurance claim process.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the following steps may assist you in making important decisions after a car accident, whether you were at fault or not for the accident.
STEP 1: CHECK YOURSELF FOR INJURIES.
Call 911 or ask someone at the scene of the accident to do so. Wait for the emergency staff if you are seriously injured.
STEP 2: CHECK ON THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR PASSENGERS.
Check on the other passengers if you are not seriously injured. Call 911 if someone is hurt or ask a bystander to do so.
STEP 3: GET TO SAFETY.
Move to the sidewalk or side of the road if you can move. If your car is safe to drive and causes a hazard, pull the car to the side. If you are not able to go, leave the vehicle where it is and look for safety.
STEP 4: CALL 911.
Calling the police is essential whether the car accident is a major collision or a minor case; it is legally required in some states. The police officers will fill out an accident form and document the accident. You can also go to the police station if the officers can come to the scene and complete the report yourself (according to the III).
STEP 5: WAIT FOR HELP.
Use the road flares in your emergency car kit, turn on your hazards and turn off the engine to warn other vehicles to slow down.
STEP 6: EXCHANGE INFORMATION.
After confirming you and your passengers are not hurt, you should exchange insurance information and contacts with the other driver. Below is the most critical information drivers should exchange according to the III.
- Location of accident
- Policy number and insurance company
- Full name and contact information
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Type, color, and model of vehicle
You should avoid discussing faults with the other driver when going through the facts, according to III. The adjuster reviewing the insurance claim will identify who is at fault based on damaged property, inspect the vehicles, the information provided by the other driver and you, and supporting information like photographs from the scene and police report.
STEP 7: DOCUMENT THE ACCIDENT.
According to the III, you should follow the steps below to protect yourself.
Identify the officers; get the badge numbers and names of the officers once they arrive.
Get a copy; since your insurer may request a copy of the report when you file an insurance claim, it is best to ask the officers where you can get a copy of the accident report.
Take pictures; take pictures from different angles showing the damage that has occurred to both cars to document the accident. It is also best to take photos of the other driver’s car plate. It is vital since it will assist you during the insurance claim process.
Takedown names; write down addresses and representations of all involved in the accident and those in the other vehicle.
Talk to witnesses; if there are any witnesses, write their addresses and names as well.
If there were any witnesses to the accident, take down their names and their contact information, as well.
STEP 8: NOTIFY YOUR INSURER AND START THE CLAIMS PROCESS.
You can communicate with your insurer while at the scene; this will help you know what they need to process your claim and what to expect.