What to do after a car accident

If an accident occurs, your first responsibility afterward should be to make sure the vehicle is turned off and to check on yourself, your passengers and the other drivers involved.

Are there any injuries? Is anyone complaining of pain? Even if an injury appears minor, it’s often best to call an ambulance, as internal injuries may have occurred. Calling 911 is the recommended course of action for anything more serious than a fender bender.

After checking on everyone’s safety, administering first aid and calling emergency services if necessary, check out the accident scene. If on the highway or in a busy section of roadway, consider moving vehicles to the shoulder if it’s possible and can be done so safely, to avoid the risk of any secondary accidents from occurring.

If the vehicles are inoperable or cannot be moved safely, make sure you and other vehicle occupants are safely away from traffic. Even if it’s a minor crash, don’t assume evevrything is OK.

Additional steps to take

If you have a camera or a smartphone handy, it can be helpful to take pictures of the accident scene and any damage to the vehicles. Photographing vehicle license plates can also be easier than writing the information down.

The drivers also can make some notes and a rough drawing to explain how the accident took place. This will also help them remember certain facts later on. The notes can include the name of the street and cross street, the direction the cars were traveling and any additional information, such as signs, lights, road conditions or barriers.

Drivers need to stay at the scene until police file a complete report and ask questions. A police report is needed for legal purposes even in the case of a minor incident, since other physical or medical damage may go unnoticed during the incident. Insurance companies also will need a copy of the accident report.

Auto insurance claims

In the event of an accident, call your insurance company as soon as you can, even if the damage appears to be minor. Correctly repairing something like a scraped or cracked bumper cover can easily exceed the cost of a typical deductible.

According to BMV.org, you may need to also file a claim if your vehicle has been vandalized, stolen or damaged during a non-accident-related event.

Before calling your insurance agent, exchange insurance information with other drivers involved, if applicable, and names, addresses and phone numbers.

When you file a claim, your insurance agent will ask several questions that can be found on your insurance cards, including policy number and your end and start date with the policy. Most insurance companies offer the option of filing a claim online, on an app on your smartphone or over the phone with an insurance representative.

After all the information is exchanged, your insurance company will provide details of what you should do next, which often includes finding a body shop to get an estimate, meeting with an insurance adjuster to go over all of the facts of the case and to help determine who was at fault and discuss a cost estimate.

If your car needs to be taken to an auto body shop, it’s important to note that drivers do not have use the body shop their insurance company recommends. Any licensed body shop will know how to submit insurance claim paperwork.


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