What You Should Do Immediately After

An Auto Accident Or Collision

Step 1. Assess the Situation

First of all do not put yourself in danger.  After a minor or major collision make sure you and your passengers are ok.  If you are ok, check on the other party or parties involved in the collision, and make sure they are ok too.  Dial 911 if someone needs medical attention.  Call 911 if you are involved in an accident that is more than a fender bender.

Step 2. Exchange Information

Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the collision and this includes:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Driver’s License number
  • Expiration date of license
  • Date of birth
  • Telephone numbers
  • Vehicle’s year, make, and model
  • Vehicle Identification Number
  • Vehicle’s License Plate and expiration date
  • Name and address of insurance company
  • Auto insurance policy number

If the driver involved in the collision does not own the car, you will also need the registered owner’s information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Driver’s License number
  • Expiration date of license
  • Telephone numbers
  • Name and address of insurance company
  • Auto insurance policy number

Step 3. Don’t Admit Fault

Do not volunteer any information about who was to blame for the collision.  You may think you are in the wrong and then learn that the other driver is as much or more to blame than you are. You should first talk to your insurance agent, your lawyer or both. Anything you say to the police or the other driver can be used against you later.

Do not agree to pay for damages or sign any paper except a traffic ticket, until you check with your insurance company or lawyer.

Step 4. Document

If you have a camera with you, take pictures of the scene, and of the other driver(s) and occupant(s)  Take notes, pictures, and video (if applicable) of the following:

  • Exact location of the collision
  • Vehicles involved
  • License Plate
  • Driver’s licence
  • Insurance card
  • Pictures of the accident with street signs or identifiable buildings in the background
  • Close up pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved
  • Pictures of the accident in all angles
  • Parties involved
  • Witnesses

Make notes too, on weather and road conditions. If the accident happened after dark, note whether the streetlights were on. Estimate your speed and that of the other vehicle. Be sure to record the exact time, date, and place the accident happened.

Step 5. Gather Witnesses

If you or the other party had passengers gather their information as well.

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Driver’s License number
  • Expiration date of license
  • Telephone numbers

If there were any witnesses to the collision get their information too.

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone numbers

You can also ask them to speak to the authorities, if they must leave, ask them to tell you what they saw and write everything down (or with their consent record their statement).

If somebody who saw the accident drives off, take down his or her license plate number.  Law enforcement can trace the owner’s name and address.

Step 6. Speak to Law Enforcement

Cooperate with the police officer investigating the case, and stick to the facts.  If law enforcement were called out to the scene of the accident take note of the officer’s information:

  • Name
  • Badge number

Ask the officer where and when you can get a copy of any accident report.

Step 7. Draw a Diagram of the Collision

Draw the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident. If there are skid marks on the road, pace them off. Draw them on the diagram, noting the distance they cover. Mark the positions of any crosswalks, stop signs, traffic lights or streetlights.

Step 8. Call Your Insurance Company

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.  When you talk to your insurance company get the following from your insurance company:

  • Claim number
  • Adjuster’s Name
  • Adjuster’s Number

If your policy has the following provisions and you require these services:

  • Get a reservation number for a car rental
  • Get a tow truck (See step 9)

Now that you got that out of the way, it’s time to get your car fixed.  And those are Steps 9 and 10!

Resource: WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE AN AUTO ACCIDENT?

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