What Steps to Take After an Accident
Here are some key things to know in the event of an automobile accident.
- If you find yourself in an accident, it is your legal responsibility to stop. Even if the damage is minimal, or you feel there is no damage at all, when your car comes into contact with anything, you have to stop the car.
- In the event of an accident, it is important to remember that you should never admit your responsibility to the accident. The reason for this is, you are signed in a contract with your insurance company. The policy states that you are not to take liability in an accident. Let your insurance company do all the talking.
The Scene of the Accident
It is important to know what to do after a car accident. While many accidents are avoidable, they do still happen. When one does happen, you need to know what you should do and what questions to ask for your claim. There is a helpful checklist to educate you on the steps to take after an accident. Review it thoroughly, and even print out a copy for yourself. Keep it accessible, just in case.
Figure out Damages and Injuries
The first thing to do after an accident is to assess injury to yourself and other parties involved. Make sure not to move your vehicles unless you have to, but always wait for the police before moving your car.
Police Must Be Contacted
Even if the accident is only a minor one, you should always have a legal accident report filled out.
Be Selective On Who You Talk To
When an accident occurs, you should only talk to certain people about it. You don’t want to admit any fault to the accident, so talk only to the law enforcement, insurance company, and medical professionals.
Facts are Important
While this part is common knowledge, it is easy to forget to get important details after an accident.
Make sure you exchange names, numbers, and addresses with everyone that was directly involved. Remember, most insurance companies do not keep records of license plate numbers, so make sure to get the VIN and vehicle description of all cars in the accident. Below is a list that explains how to take down this information in just a few seconds.
Information Checklist in Case of an Accident
Here is a checklist that you can follow to remind you of what information to take down:
- Description of the Accident
- Driver Information
- Insurance Information
- Vehicle Description & VIN
Below are more detail of what you should collect in the event of an accident.
You can be especially prepared if you get an accident form that collects the information when the car accident happens. You can get these forms from a police station or the local DMV.
These forms are insanely helpful, and every state uses a different form. Because accidents can be overwhelming, it is easy to panic or forgets steps you should take if one happens.
Driver Information to Collect After a Collision
- Contact information, including their phone number.
- The Driver’s Address
- The Name of the Driver
Insurance Company Information to Collect
The proof of insurance card of you and the other driver should have all the information you need to know. The vital information needed involving insurance companies are:
- Name of the Insurance Company
- The Insurance Policy Number
Information About the Car Involved
- The License Plate
- The VIN
- Description of the Vehicle; Make, Year, Model
- Pictures for personal documentation
Information About The Accident to Collect
- Approximate Address of Accident
- Nearest and/or Current Road
- Time and Date of Accident
- Which Direction you were traveling
- The Other Car’s Direction
- Photos of Damage and Scene
- Details of What Happened (Make sure you do this as soon as you can, so details of the accident aren’t lost. A video, written statement, or verbal account to a police officer is sufficient enough to document the details of what transpired.)
- Notes that Involve the Driving Conditions
- Any Information that Involves Witnesses
- The Contact and Identification information of the Police Officer who Shows Up.
Should a Mobile Phone be Used to Take Photos at the Scene of the Accident?
Cell phones are everywhere nowadays, and most mobile devices have cameras and/or recording devices. Most of the time, when you submit a claim, you are given the ability to provide pictures of the accident and damages. This is a smart thing to do, seeing as how you will reveal a lot about the accident by the pictures you take of the scene and damage.
While your information is important to the other driver, you should only give the information needed for the claim. They do not need a picture of your driver’s license. They only need your name, phone number, and address.
Helpful Tip: What you SHOULDN’T include in your report.
Never discuss the fault with the other driver and party involved. Their concern is not how you feel or what you did during or before the accident. Even if you feel you are in the wrong, do not accept responsibility.
Contact The Insurance Company
Using your emergency claim number, mobile app, or mobile website, contact your agent and report the accident immediately. Calling from the scene is very useful. In the event of police involvement, sometimes they can shed some light on the insurance company about what has transpired.
Filing Your Accident Claim
It is important to know what to do after a car accident, and filing a claim is something you need to know how to do. Make sure you use the number for accident claims, and the agent will be able to walk you through filing the claim for the accident. Sometimes, a mobile app or website can help you start the claim with easy steps to get the ball rolling faster.
Your responsibility after an accident is not to divulge in conversation; it is to collect the facts of the situation and not be involved any further. Do not commit to handling the matter yourself, and never admit fault to the other party, police, or insurance company. Collect the information you need and handle it properly. In many states, it is important to know, it is required by law that you report any accident you see or are involved in. Your insurance commissioner/representative can provide you with specific state laws.