A massive jolt. A bang. And the whole world instantly shrinks to the inside of your car. You’ve just been in an accident. Your airbags have deployed, filling your vehicle with haze and leaving you disoriented and frightened.
If this ever happens to you, don’t panic or act hastily. Keep a cool head, because experts say there are important steps you should take in the aftermath of an accident. Presuming no one is injured, here are things you should do.
• Turn on your hazard flashers.
• Move the vehicle to a safe, secure location, if possible, but don’t leave the scene. Be careful in busy locations.
• If you haven’t called 911 yet, do it now. In some states, it’s mandatory to call authorities for any accident with property damage. Know the law in your home state along with any alternate phone numbers for reporting accidents, such as *77 (for state police). If you’re in an unfamiliar state, 911 is your best option.
• Set up emergency lights, reflectors or road flares to warn oncoming traffic.
• Get information from the other driver(s), including: (1) name, address, phone number and email; (2) driver’s license and license plate number; (3) insurance company and policy number; (4) make, model and color of the other vehicle(s); (5) location of the accident. However, don’t engage the other driver if they seem impaired or hostile — or if it appears the accident was incited by road rage.
• Get the names and contact information for witnesses to the accident.
• Don’t engage in a discussion about what happened, who’s at fault or the extent of any injuries.
• Call your insurance agent and follow any instructions they may offer. Never do a cash or handshake deal to cover damages.
• Take photographs of the scene. Start with wide photos showing the cars involved and the surrounding environment: the road, road signs and traffic signals. Then take close-ups showing the cars involved (interior and exterior), damage to each, skid marks, potholes — anything that might be relevant.
• When the police arrive, ask how to get a copy of their report. If they fill out a preliminary report at the scene, ask to photograph it.
• If the police do not create a report or have to leave before doing so, go to a police station as soon as possible, file a report and get a copy.
• Even if you don’t believe you’ve been injured, go to your doctor as soon as possible for an examination. Some injuries may not reveal themselves until days or even weeks after an accident.
Dealing with an accident doesn’t end after the tow trucks pull away. Repercussions can continue as claims are filed and worked through. Give yourself the best chance of a successful outcome by being methodical and organized starting at the scene of the accident.
We Insure hopes you never have to use your auto insurance. But if you do, know that our agents will be here to support you every step of the way — from filing and following through on claims to answering any questions you might have during the process.
The information contained in this page is provided for general informational purposes only and may not be applicable to all situations. We Insure makes no guarantees of results from the use of this information.