What you do immediately following a car accident can have health, financial, and legal repercussions that affect you for years. Following this 8 step checklist is one of the best ways to handle a bad situation.
No matter your age, being in a car accident is a nerve racking experience. The confusion of what just happened, uncertainty of what to do, and concern over your health status (and anyone else involved), makes it difficult to process things immediately following an accident. Keeping certain items in your car, as well as following a step by step approach, can help to make the whole experience a little easier.
Things to keep in your car, in case of an accident
Small pad or a few pieces of paper
Whether the accident was your fault or not, try to remain calm. By keeping yourself in a good frame of mind and using a step by step approach, you will be better able to handle this tough situation. Allstate insurance company recommends an 8 step check list to get you through the process. (there is a link at the bottom of the page to print out the list)
STEP 1: 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.
STEP 2: CHECK ON THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR PASSENGERS.
If you're not too hurt to move, check on the other passengers in your car. If anyone's injured, get on the phone with emergency services or ask a bystander to call for help.
STEP 3: GET TO SAFETY.
If you're able to, move to the side of the road or 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.
STEP 4: CALL 911.
Whether an accident is considered a minor fender-bender or a major collision, calling the police is important — and in some states, it's legally required. The responding officers will fill out an accident report and document the scene. If the police can't come to the scene of the accident, you can go to the nearest police station and complete a report yourself, according to the Insurance Information Institute. When you file a claim with your insurer, they may ask for a copy of the police report to help with the claims process.
STEP 5: WAIT FOR HELP.
Turn off your engine, turn on your hazard lights and use the road flares in your emergency car kit to warn other vehicles to slow down.
STEP 6: EXCHANGE INFORMATION.
After making sure you and any passengers are uninjured, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. According to the Insurance Information Institute, here's the most important information drivers should exchange after an accident:
Full name and contact information
Insurance company and policy number
Driver's license and license plate number
Type, color and model of vehicle
Location of accident
The Insurance Information Institute recommends that you avoid discussing fault when going over the facts with the other driver. When you file an insurance claim, the adjuster reviewing your claim will determine who's at fault based on an inspection of the vehicles/property damaged, information provided by you and the other parties involved in the accident, and any supporting documentation, like the police report or photographs from the scene.
STEP 7: DOCUMENT THE ACCIDENT.
In order to help protect yourself, the Insurance Information Institute recommends taking the following steps:
Identify the officers.
Once the police arrive, get the name and badge number of all responding officers.
Ask the police officers present where you can obtain a copy of the accident report. Your insurer may ask for a copy of the report when you file a car insurance claim.
Document the accident thoroughly by taking pictures of your vehicle from different angles, showing the damage done to both cars. It might also be a good idea to take pictures of the other car's license plate. You may be able to share photos with your insurer during the claims process to help support your claim.
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.
STEP 8: NOTIFY YOUR INSURER AND START THE CLAIMS PROCESS.
You may want to call your insurance agent while you're at the scene. That way, they can tell you exactly what they wil