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What to Do After you Have an Accident?
Being involved in an accident is stressful. Do you know what to do right after you have been involved in a crash? Here is a short walk-though.
General safety tips
Keep an emergency medical kit handy, preferably in the glove compartment and not in the trunk. You should also have pen and paper for taking notes and a camera (don’t rely on your cell phone to take pictures with, as you may run out of battery). A flashlight and set of cones or warning triangles are also a must-have.
Stay calm and evaluate injuries
The first impulse will be to evaluate material damage. However, the safety of you and your passengers should come first. If anybody needs medical assistance, call 911 immediately before doing anything else.
If no one was seriously injured, move the vehicles to the side of the road, as far as possible from any traffic. Keeping them in the middle of the road could lead to further incidents. If you cannot move them, remain in the car with your seatbelts fastened, turn on warning lights even if it is day time and use cones or triangles to warn other drivers that part of the road may be blocked.
Put down information
Exchange the following information with all drivers involved: driver’s name, owner’s name (if different from the driver), driver’s phone phone number, driver’s address of residence, insurance carrier, policy number, license plate number and driver’s license number. You should also put down the car make, model and color, the location of the accident and how it happened. If there were any witnesses, make sure you get their contact details too.
As frustrating as it may be to see your car wrecked, remain polite and refrain from calling names and putting blame on other drivers involved, as it won’t do any good – the whole situation is already extremely stressful for everybody. If it was your fault, let the authorities establish it.
Photograph the scene
You will want your pictures to show an overall look of the scene, so that you will have a case when you file a claim.
File an accident report
Authorities in a lot of locations will not come at the scene of a crash for minor accidents, unless there were injuries. However, you are required to file an accident report at any police station or with any DMV office. Include all documentation you have gathered at the above steps.
File a claim
Most major car insurance companies will allow you to file the claim online, so you don’t need to drive to their headquarters. You will have to upload all information you have gathered, including a copy of the accident report you have filed with the authorities. Depending on the seriousness of the accident, a field adjuster may come over and inspect the damages. The insurer will analyze the incident and, if everything is covered by your insurance policy, settlement funds will be released as soon as possible. This is where a good car insurance coverage will come to your rescue.