Driving is something we do every day, whether it is commuting to work or heading to the grocery store. When that routine trip results in an accident, life can become extremely complicated.
Immediately after the accident, you are naturally shaken up, but you will want to start documenting what happened as quickly as you can. Not only will your insurance company need the information when you file the claim, you may need the information should there be a legal battle down the road.
Immediately After the Accident
The first thing you want to do is to check for injuries, both in your vehicle and any others that are involved. If you discover that someone is injured, even if they appear minor, you want to call 911. If you are seriously injured, you want to try not to move until emergency medical personnel arrive.
If you can move your car out of the path of traffic, do so. Put your car in park, turn off your car, and activate your hazard lights. If you have cones or flares, place them around the car for safety.
Even if no one is injured, you will want to call 911 in order to have a police officer on the scene. You will need a police report for the insurance company. If your car is not safe to drive, you may need to call a tow truck, although the police may do that for you.
At the accident scene, you should exchange information with the other driver. Provide them with your full name, address, and phone number. Give them your driver’s license and license plate information as well as your insurance information. Note the make, model, and color of the other vehicle, the location of the accident, and the names of anyone who was in the other vehicle.
You will also want to collect witness information if possible. If for any reason the other driver makes you feel uncomfortable, you can obtain all the information from the police report. Do not discuss who was at fault at the accident scene.
Today, it is easy to take photos at an accident scene as cell phones now have cameras. Do not take photos if it is unsafe to do so. For instance, if you must stand in oncoming traffic or the accident is in a busy intersection, you may not be able to take photos of the actual scene. If you can safely take photos, take some with and without flash if it is dark as lighting can affect photos. Some tips for taking photos:
• Include photos of objects in the road, if applicable
• Include interior damage
• Take from more than one distance
• Take multiple angles
• Take photos of all injuries
• Take photos of the surrounding area
• Use an object to indicate scale
Taking photos of license plates and insurance documents is also a good idea.
You can call your insurance agent at the accident scene, but it is usually better to call when you arrive home or the next day when you are calmer. Your agent will ask about the accident and explain how the claims process will work. You may be responsible for your deductible in order to get your car repaired, but you can file a claim against the other driver’s insurance if they were at fault to recover that cost.
If you have been involved in an accident and someone else was at fault, you need to contact an attorney. Please follow this link to learn more about how a personal injury attorney can help after an accident.