There are many ways you can practice traffic safety, but sometimes, incidents cannot be avoided. In case you happen to be in a car accident, it’s important to know what to do in order to ensure everyone’s safety and make your insurance claim. If you’re new to this sort of thing, here’s a little guide that will help you know exactly what to do after a minor accident.
First Things First
As soon as the accident happens, find a safe spot to stop the car—failing to do so is a major offense. Once you find a safe spot, turn off the engine and switch on the hazard lights. See whether you or your passengers have any injuries. If someone is hurt or if the road is blocked, call the ambulance and the police right away. In case of a minor accident without injured people, don’t forget to note down the physical condition of all parties, just in case they try to claim for an injury later. It’s also crucial to stay calm. While you will undoubtedly feel shaken, take a few deep breaths, analyze the situation and don’t lose your temper. It’s best to quickly check in on other accident participants, but don’t get too close or get into any discussions.
According to law, you must share your name and address with all people involved in the accident. As soon as you see that no one is injured, you can swap insurance details and note down all passenger and witness details. If the other driver is not the owner of the vehicle, find out the owner’s name and note down their info as well. If the vehicle belongs to the company, write down the company name (in case of trucks, these are usually painted on the trailer or truck doors).
Record a Few Things
Make sure to write the following things concerning the accident: type and color of the car involved, their license plate and take some pictures of the car. Even if you were involved in a very light accident, things like a quick bumper repair will probably need to be done, so you want to have all the information present. Note down the time, date and address of the crash. If there are some unusual driving conditions like snow, muddy road, potholes, lighting and thunder, make sure to note that down too. All parties involved need to provide their contact information and note down any injuries. You can also use your voice recorder app on your phone to describe the accident while it’s still fresh in your mind. If you can grab a car accident form from your local police station or DMV, that can also help greatly.
When to Involve the Authorities
In most cases, even minor accidents require a legal accident report. Make sure to call the police right away, especially if the other driver leaves the scene, you start suspecting they have no insurance, are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or if you suspect insurance fraud. If you don’t have any means to contact the police right away, tell them about the accident within 24 hours. In case you don’t do that, you might be risking a fine, points on your license or even disqualification from driving.
Avoid Any Discussion
While it’s important to be civil, try not to be too friendly and limit your discussion with other parties. Make sure not to admit any fault or indicate responsibility, even if you feel like the accident is your fault. The only people who need your word about the accident are police officers, medical professionals, and insurance agents.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Make sure to call your insurance company or your insurance agent right away. If you can grab your phone while you’re on the scene, that might be the best solution. In case the officers are present, you can ask them to provide information to your agent. If you’re in shock, a police officer might be better equipped to give accurate and detailed information.
Hopefully, you will never need to use this guide, but if you need it, it’s best to bookmark it on your phone or print it out for your car so you can always consult it in case of an accident. Remember to keep your cool and follow these steps and everything will be settled down in only a few short minutes.
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