There are many dangers we can experience while driving – failure to abide by standard traffic rules, dodging animals who wander onto the highway, sudden flat tires, distracted drivers, etc. Accidents happen and all too often can be quite nerve wrecking. While accidents are scary and unsettling, knowing what to do when one occurs doesn’t have to be.
1. If possible, relocate to an area of safety. Pull over onto the side of the road or a side road, you may also pull into a nearby parking lot or into the median. If your car cannot be moved due to the severity of the accident, turn on your blinkers to warn other drivers and prevent any further accidents from occurring. It is important for you to be safe and out of harm’s way as well. If you find yourself in an accident that’s in the middle of the road, do not continue to stand there, especially in an area of high traffic. Move to the side of the road or sidewalk (with adequate space between you and the actual highway), the median, in front of a nearby business, etc.
2. Remain calm and get out of your vehicle. It’s important for your car to be in park with the engine off or manual brake set into place. Check for oncoming traffic before exiting your vehicle; just because an accident has occurred does not mean other drivers will slow down or pay attention. If your car is on fire, move to safety immediately.
3. Assess the outcome of others involved. Were any pedestrians hit? How is the condition of the other driver and any passengers involved? Call 911 immediately if any injuries are suspected so they can receive the appropriate medical care.
4. Call local law enforcement. They will assist you as a helpful mediator between you and the other driver, as well as when contacting your car insurance company. Do not point the blame or admit to any wrong doing on your end; they will assess the scene and provide an unbiased assessment. If there are no injuries to either party, the police may not arrive to the scene and you may be able to file a report through your local DMV.
5. Be informed. Collect important information, such as the other driver’s and passenger’s names and the driver’s license plate number, you will also need their insurance information and the make/model of their vehicle; contact information for anyone who witnesses the accident; the names of the police officers who assisted you at the scene.
6. Keep photographic proof for your car insurance company. Take photos of any damage done to your car and of the scene.
7. File your claim. In addition to filing over the phone, some companies allow customers to file claims online or through a smart phone app. Your insurer’s contact information can be found on your ID card.