Published: February 2013
Getting into a car accident probably isn't something most people want to think about, but it's a risk that every driver on the road faces every day. For this reason, knowing what to do ahead of time will help ensure that if and when that unfortunate time comes, you'll be prepared. The Insurance Information Institute reminds us that what we do immediately following a car accident could have an effect in three ways: ensuring your personal safety, documenting the accident and beginning the claims process.
Immediately following a car accident, consider taking the following actions:
- Check yourself for injuries. If you're injured, call 911 or ask someone else to do so. If you're seriously injured, try not to move, and wait for emergency personnel.
- If you're not too hurt to move, check on the well-being of your passengers. If anyone's injured, get on the phone with emergency services or ask a bystander to call for help.
- Get to safety if you're able to, either on the side of the road or on a sidewalk. If your car is safe to drive and is causing a hazard where it is, pull it to the side of the road. Otherwise, leave it where it is and get yourself to safety
- Wait for help. Turn off your engine, turn on your hazard lights and set road flares to warn other vehicles to slow down.
Regardless of whether an accident is considered a minor fender-bender or a major collision, you may want to call the police. Even in small accidents, it's important to have a police officer make an official report—and in some states, it's legally required. In order to protect yourself, consider taking the following steps.
- Identify the officers. Once the police arrive, get the name and badge number of all responding officers.
- Get a copy. Ask the police officers present where you can obtain a copy of their accident report.
- Take pictures. Document the accident thoroughly by taking snapshots from different angles, showing the damage done to both cars.
- Take names. Write down the names and addresses of all parties involved, including any passengers in the other vehicle.
- Talk to witnesses. If there were any witnesses to the accident, take down their names and their contact information as well.
Call your auto insurance agent to report the claim as soon as possible. Reporting the accident in a timely manner can help get the claims process rolling, which could help you get back on the road more quickly. To help ensure that your claim is filed and processed speedily, have the following information noted and ready to give to your insurance agent.
- The name and address of the other driver's insurance company.
- The other driver's name, address, driver's license number and insurance policy number.
- A description of the other driver's car, including license plate number, make and model.
- Details and location of the accident.
Having a car accident is unpleasant and can be downright frightening, but knowing what to do ahead of time can help remove a little of the stress involved. And, make sure to always keep a current copy of your proof of insurance in your car.
Want to protect yourself in case of an accident? Talk to an Allstate agent today.