What to Do After an Accident

You’ve just had an accident. At the scene, you need to do the following:

1. Stop the car and get help for any injured drivers or passengers. Give whatever help you can to the injured (covering them with blankets, making them comfortable), but don’t move them. You could aggravate the injury(ies). Have someone call the police or highway patrol. Tell the police how many are injured and the possible extent of the injuries (whether they appear serious or not). The police can then notify the nearest medical units if they are needed.

2. Protect the accident scene. Try to prevent further damage to the vehicles involved be setting up flares or getting your car off the road.

3. Give the police officers whatever information they require, including your version of what happened. Do not admit you were at fault, either to the police or the other driver(s). Just give the facts as you see them. Ask the investigating officer how you can get a copy of the police report. You might need the report when you submit your claim to the insurance company. Stay at the accident scene until the police have left. (If it’s a minor accident, the police may not make a report. In fact, they may not even come to the scene if there are no injuries or serious damage to any of the vehicles involved). The officer plays a big role in documenting the accident and reports the facts from both sides and witnesses. Getting all this information is important because stories often change as time goes on. NOTE: If one party of the accident is ticketed by the officer then it’s almost certain that person will be at fault.

4. If the officers refuse to come, you will want to see if you can find any witnesses and take pictures with a camera phone. This is also important in a parking lot accident, as there are no rules governing. By collecting this information you are protecting yourself from someone changing their story after the fact. Which in my personal experience the story will change about 50% of the time within 1-2 days. If it’s a hit from behind there isn’t much a changed story can do to change fault.

5. Write down the names and addresses of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident, as well as the license number, make, model and year of each car. Make a note of the driver’s license number(s) and insurance information of the other driver(s). Write down the names and addresses of as many witnesses as possible. You can take pictures to help you document as well.

6. Call your insurance agent or the local claim representative for your insurance company to report the claim. Actually, it’s a good idea to call your insurance agent in addition to the claim representative. If your agent is involved, it could help speed the claim process. You should also tell your agent if you are not satisfied with how your claim is being handled.

7. Ask your agent or insurance company representative how to proceed and what forms or documents you will need to support your claim. Your insurer may require you to fill out a “proof of loss” form, as well as supply documents pertaining to your claim such as medical and auto repair bills, and a copy of the police report.

8. Keep records of any expenses you have as a result of the accident, including any related to a temporary inability to work or perform basic household functions. Your policy may allow you to be reimbursed for such things as medical and hospital expenses, and lost wages.

9. If you are not satisfied with how your insurer is handling/has handled your claim, make your feelings known to the company and to your agent.

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