At some point, you’ll be in a traffic accident. Hopefully it’s minor, but most people don’t know what to do after the accident. What information do you need to give the other driver? Should you call the police? How soon does it need to be reported to insurance?
Here are seven important things you need to know about what to do during and after an accident.
Accident Tip #1: Keep an emergency kit in your car. Your kit should include basic first aid supplies, a pen and paper for taking notes, and a list of phone numbers for emergency contacts and law enforcement. You should also consider reflective warning triangles or LED emergency flashers to mark your location.
Accident Tip #2: Don’t put yourself in danger. If you’re in a minor accident, decide if you can safely move all vehicles to the side of the road. Staying in traffic lanes can be a dangerous traffic hazard and puts you at risk.
Accident Tip #3: Exchange Info. You’ll need to get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number, and vehicle license plate number. You’ll also want to get contact information for each passenger in the vehicle. Write down a description of the vehicle, including make, model, and color. Ask the other person at fault to sign a paper stating they are at fault if the police do not come to the scene.
Accident Tip #4: Take pictures. Take pictures of the accident scene, roadway and weather conditions, and the damage to both vehicles. If vehicles are still in the roadway be sure to get pictures showing their positions in relation to each other, but don’t walk in the roadway or put yourself in danger. If there were witnesses to the accident, try to get their contact information so that they can corroborate your story.
Accident Tip #5: File an accident report. Police or Highway Patrol usually won’t respond to an accident unless there are injuries or major property damage. Some insurance companies may require an accident report, which you can file through the DMV or with the local police department. It’s not always required, but it may help speed up your claim process, but do so only after consulting with an attorney.
Accident Tip #6: Consult an attorney. There are a lot of different entities working in the aftermath of an accident to protect their own interests. A qualified personal injury attorney can help you navigate the process of dealing with the insurance companies – making sure that you don’t get blamed for something that may not have been your fault, and ensuring that you receive the settlement to which you’re entitled.
Accident Tip #7: File the claim with your insurance company. After you’ve spoken with an attorney, you need to notify your insurance company about the accident. Your attorney will advise you about what to say (or not to say) during your consultation.