I Was In A Car Accident – What Do I Do Now?
If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s important to follow specific steps and protocols to ensure everyone’s safety, protect yourself financially, and fix any damages to yourself or to your vehicle. Knowing what to do after an accident, regardless of whose fault the accident was, can ensure that you have all the information needed in the days following your collision. The steps outlined in this article can help you make the right decisions immediately following your accident.
What To Do if You’re in a Car Accident
Here’s what to do if you’re in a car accident:
Assess the Safety of Yourself and Your Passengers
Before doing anything else, perform a quick self-evaluation to determine if you’ve been hurt in the accident. Sometimes, shock following a collision can make injuries challenging to detect, so be thorough in your review. If you have an injury or experience pain when you try to move, call for help and wait for a qualified emergency professional to arrive.
Once you determine it’s safe for you to move, check on the wellbeing of your passengers if anyone is with you in the vehicle. If someone is unconscious or hurt, don’t attempt to move them. Instead, wait for a trained professional for help.
Get To a Safe Location
If your vehicle is on a road or near other vehicles, get the car somewhere it won’t cause further accidents or damage. Move your car to the shoulder of the road, to a parking lot, or out of the way of other vehicles. Turn off your engine and use your hazard lights to help warn other cars to slow down. If you’re unable to move your car, wait until it’s safe to exit the vehicle, and then get out of the way of oncoming traffic or other cars. Help your passengers do the same.
Even if you think your accident is minor, it’s important to call emergency services so they can get a report on the collision. Describe your location to the operator and explain the situation. If anyone is hurt or injured, share those details, too. Insurance companies sometimes ask for a copy of the accident police report, so it’s important to ensure you have all the required documentation. If the police can’t assist you, you can go to a police station following your accident to file a report.
Wait for Emergency Services
Wait in your car, or in a safe location, for help to arrive. This can take some time. If you’re hurt or feel unsafe speaking with the other driver, you can wait for the police to get to you. Otherwise, you can speak with the other driver to ensure they’re okay and exchange information. Don’t admit fault with the accident or accuse the other driver of fault. Remain calm and ensure you get all the documentation you need.
Gather Necessary Information
While waiting for emergency services, or with the help of a police officer, exchange information with the other driver or party. Be sure to record:
- The other driver’s full name and phone number
- The name of their insurance company and their policy number
- Their license plate number
- Their driver’s license number
- Information about their vehicle, like its color, type, and distinguishing features
- The date, time, and location of the accident
Further Document the Accident
Record all you can about the accident to ensure you have pictures, documentation, and information if your insurance company needs it. The information you provide can help determine what steps to take, who’s at fault, and proper compensation following your accident, so the more documentation you provide, the better. Take photos of your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle. Record the names and contact information of any witnesses, passengers in the other driver’s vehicle, and passengers in your own vehicle.
If you work with the police, get the names and badge numbers of the officers helping and a copy of the accident report.
Call Your Insurance Company
After ensuring everyone is okay, speaking with emergency officials, and documenting the accident, you can call your insurance company to file a claim. If you’re able, try to call your insurance from the scene. They can direct you to collect additional documentation, information, or photos. Depending on your insurance company, they might have specific processes or procedures they need you to follow.
Determine if Your Vehicle Is Safe To Drive
Following your accident, you may feel overwhelmed or shaken. These feelings are normal. First, give yourself time to calm down. Then assess if you and your vehicle are in a safe condition to drive. If your vehicle is not drivable, you may have to call a tow truck.
Call a friend, family member, or someone you trust to get you if you feel like driving away from the accident is unsafe for any reason. It’s often better to have your car towed or to leave your car parked in a safe location than it is to risk driving and harming yourself or others.
Get a Professional Damage Inspection
Some insurance options qualify you for a damage inspection. Depending on your car, coverage, and location, you might also be able to take your vehicle to a dealership collision center to do a professional evaluation. Speaking with your insurance company can help you determine if you qualify for repairs, roadside help, or a rental vehicle. Most insurance companies allow you to repair your car anywhere you wish. Depending on who’s at fault for the accident and the type of insurance you have, they might reimburse some or all of the damage to your vehicle.
It’s important to review your policy and to speak with your provider about their policies to ensure you understand what resources you have following an accident. Situations, coverage types, and protocol following the accident can all affect the compensation you’re entitled to receive.
Knowing what steps to take following an accident can help you remain calm. Consider keeping a guide for what to do after an accident with you in your car, along with other essentials you might need. Being prepared may make it easier to think rationally following an event and ensure you get all the documentation you need for your insurance company. Keep important documents like your proof of insurance, driver’s license, vehicle registration and emergency phone numbers inside your vehicle whenever you drive.