What should you do after a car accident? It’s one of those things we don’t seem to consider until it happens to us, and then we’re stuck on the side of the road trying to figure out who to call, what to do, and how to get home. Here are the 5 things you need to do immediately after a car accident.
Take stock of the situation.
Check for injuries. Please note: the following tips apply to situations where no one is critically injured. If you suspect you or any of your passengers are injured and in need of medical care, call 911 to request an ambulance and ask the operator for assistance determining if you can safely move your vehicle to a safe place without causing further injury to you or your passengers.
- Check the car. If the car is too damaged to move, turn on your hazards and use cones, flags, or any other bright, attention-grabbing items at hand to make sure your vehicle is clearly visible.
If you can safely move the vehicle and everyone in it, move the damaged vehicles to a safe space out of the way, like a breakdown lane or a parking lot.
Call 911. Yes, even if it’s just a fender bender.
Call the police, no matter how minor the accident seems or how any other involved drivers are behaving. Even if all parties are being cooperative, you’ll want to have a police report and official documentation of the accident for insurance purposes.
While you’re waiting for help, collect the information you’ll need for your insurance, the police, and your personal records.
- Drivers’ and passengers’ names and contact information
- Vehicle descriptions including the make, model, and year.
- Driver’s license numbers
- License plate numbers
- Insurance companies and policy numbers
- If there are witnesses, ask for their names and contact information
- Accident scene location and/or address
- If you can, also record the police officer’s name and badge number before leaving the scene.
Tip: Take photos of all vehicles involved and the accident scene. If your car is stranded in the middle of the road, it’s not worth risking injury to take pictures, but if you can safely take pictures of the make and model of each car, damages, and license plate numbers, it’ll make the documentation process a little faster.
Arrange a ride home.
If your car is too damaged to drive and must be towed from the seen, be sure to document that as well. Call a friend or a taxi to give you a lift from the scene of the accident.
Call your insurance.
Once you’ve collected the information you’ll need, been cleared by the police, and have arranged transportation from the scene, contact your insurance agent to start the claims process. Make sure you inquire about what’s covered under your policy, provide your agent with all of the information they request, and ask them what to expect moving forward from covering medical bills to covering auto collision repair.