7 Tips For What to Do When You’re Involved in a Car Accident
September 14th, 2016 by Attorney John Colvin
Even the most careful and experienced drivers may someday find themselves involved in a car accident – and if that happens, knowing what to do can help you stay calm.
One thing you can do today is put a pen, pencil, and notepad in your glove box and emergency flares in your trunk. You’ll be glad you have these items, if you’re ever involved in a crash.
Following are some tips about how to respond to a car accident, but remember that safety is your first priority – avoid any actions that create additional risks, and be alert for other moving vehicles.
- Check for injuries. In the immediate aftermath of a crash, make sure everyone in your car, including yourself, is uninjured. If you’re able, see if the other driver or drivers are injured. Call 9-1-1 immediately if anyone needs medical attention, and if your injuries prevent you from getting out of your car, turn on your hazard lights and keep your seat belt fastened until emergency personnel arrive.
- Call the police. Even if it’s a minor fender-bender, call the police to report the accident. A dispatcher may tell you that if damage is minimal, no officer will come to the scene, but making the call gives you an official record of the date and time of the crash. An officer will file an accident report for any crash he or she investigates, but if no officer comes to the scene, you should still report the accident immediately to your automobile insurance carrier as soon as possible, following the crash.
- Clear the road. If your vehicle is functioning, move it safely out of traffic. If the car isn’t running, turn on the hazard lights, move all uninjured occupants to a location off the road, and ignite road flares near your vehicle, so other drivers notice it.
- Exchange information with other drivers. Each driver should exchange name, address, telephone number, driver’s license and license plate numbers, and insurance information. If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, ask for the owner’s information, and jot down a description of each vehicle in the crash, including the make, model, and year.
- Get contact information for eyewitnesses. If onlookers are present, ask for their names and contact information.
- Take pictures. Take a picture of the cars involved in the crash, as well as street signs or other visible landmarks that help pinpoint the crash scene.
- Call your insurance company. Call your insurer to report the crash. Be prepared to offer all of the contact information you collected from other drivers and witnesses, as well as the name and badge numbers of police who investigated the crash, and the accident report number.
After a crash, never say anything that implies you may have been at fault. If the occupants or drivers of other vehicles involved in the crash seem hostile, mention that fact when you call the police and wait for police to arrive before trying to exchange information.
Even if you think you’re uninjured, it’s still a good idea to visit your doctor as soon as you can after a crash. Internal injuries and some types of head injuries may not be immediately evident to the untrained eye.