Car accidents can and do occur anywhere at any time. For this reason, it is important that drivers are aware of their responsibilities following an accident. Knowing exactly what you should and shouldn’t do following an accident can help to minimize the stress and make it easier to get over your crash. Therefore, we’ll now present you with step-by-step instructions on exactly what to do following a car accident.
Stay Put (Don’t Leave the Scene)
Whenever you are in a car accident—whether it is with another vehicle or you simply crashed into something—it is important not to leave the scene of an accident. Failure to stop after an accident (leaving the scene) or not reporting the accident within a specified amount of time can lead to steep fines and other legal penalties. Therefore, it is important to stay at the scene. This is especially true if you hit a parked car and cannot locate the other driver, as the law states that you must wait a reasonable amount of time before leaving.
The most important thing to do following a car accident is to stay calm. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, getting angry and arguing with the other driver won’t help the situation. Keeping a cool, level head is essential following an accident, and it may make it easier for you to think straight so that you can properly assess the situation and determine what to do next.
Check for Injuries
As soon as the accident occurs, you will want to check to make sure that no drivers or passengers involved have suffered any serious injuries. If anyone is badly injured, it is important that you not try to move them as this could cause them further injury.
Keep Everyone Away from Traffic
If the accident occurred in a heavily trafficked area, it is always best to move the vehicles to the side of the road if possible. Another option is to turn on your hazard lights or set out warning triangles if the vehicles cannot be moved. After determining that there are no serious injuries, it is best to keep everyone far away from the road for safety.
Call the Police (If Necessary)
It is not always necessary to call the police after an accident. If someone is seriously injured, calling 911 immediately is important. However, if no one was injured and the damage to the vehicles is minor, most state laws specify that you don’t have to call the police. Nonetheless, it can still be helpful to get a police report, as this may be necessary when filing an insurance claim.
Don’t Admit Fault
It is important not to admit fault at the scene of the accident—whether it is to the police, the other driver or any witnesses that may be present. Anything you say could be used against you to prove you were at fault.
Exchange Details and Contact Information
If there are any witnesses present, it is never a bad idea to take down their contact information just in case. You will also need to exchange license and insurance information with the other driver. Although the laws vary from state to state, you are usually required to provide your full name, the name of your insurance company, your insurance policy number and a contact number for your insurer.
Collect Information about the Accident
Collecting as much information as you can about the accident can be a big help when it comes time to file an insurance claim. One good option is to take pictures of the vehicles and any damage, preferably before you move the cars off the road. You may also want to write down as many notes and details about the accident as you can while they are still fresh in your mind.
Contact Your Insurer
You are not required by law to contact your insurance company from the scene of the accident. However, if you plan on filing a claim or any injuries occurred as a result of the accident, it is a good idea to contact your insurance company as soon as you can. Once you contact your insurer, they will then provide you with whatever information you need to file a claim and also about getting your car repaired should it be necessary.
Getting into a car accident can be extremely scary, and it could potentially lead to long-lasting mental and physical damage. However, a good way to avoid the stress that accompanies an accident is to make sure you are prepared and know exactly what to do should an accident occur. Although you can’t make the accident going away, being prepared may at least help you to get over it more quickly.