No matter how careful a driver you are, chances are good that you will be involved in at least one accident. Whether that car accident is a simple fender bender or something more serious, it is important to do the right things.
The steps you take immediately following a car crash can do a lot to protect, or damage, your rights. No one wants to be involved in an automobile accident, but it is important to be prepared and have the right information.
Assess the Situation
No matter what the nature of the crash or the circumstances involved, the first thing you should do is make sure none of the drivers or passengers are hurt. If there are injuries, you will need to call for help before doing anything else.
If no one is hurt and your car is still operational, move it to the side of the road as quickly as possible. A disabled car in an active lane of travel is an open invitation to further damage and injuries. Moving the car to a safer location will also make it easier to gather the information and evidence you need.
If your car is no longer drivable, turn on your emergency flashers right away and call for help. Wait with the car until help arrives, and ask the other drivers to remain with their vehicles as well. If the police come to the scene, you will need to report what happened calmly and succinctly. If a police report is filed, be sure to ask for a copy.
Record the Scene
It is important to document the accident scene as completely as you can. Use your cell phone to take pictures of all the vehicles involved. Include long shots showing the location of the vehicles and close-ups of any damage.
You should also take pictures of the surrounding area, including any street signs and physical markers. These pictures can document the conditions as they existed at the time of the crash. If there was fog, rain or snow, be sure your pictures reflect those weather conditions.
Gather the Information You Need
After the vehicles have been removed to a safe location, the next step is to exchange insurance information with the other drivers. Avoid trying to place blame, and remain calm as you gather this vital information.
Check the offered insurance cards carefully and make sure they are not expired. Be sure to record all of the information from the insurance cards, including the full name of the driver, the effective and expiration dates of the policy, the name of the company and the full policy number. You will need to provide your own insurance company with all this information when you can to report the accident.
Call Your Insurance Company
After you have all the information you need, your final step is to call your insurance company and give them everything they need to process the claim and determine responsibility for the accident.
It is important to call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. The sooner you call the easier it will be to remember those little details that could make a difference in your claim. The information you provide to your insurance company should be as complete as possible. Include any pictures you took at the accident scene, and include full details about the weather conditions and the exact time of the crash. The more information you can provide your insurance company the easier it will be to process your claim.