How to Handle an Accident
When you get into a car accident, there are certain steps you may want to take in order to help make sure everyone is safe, to follow the law and to get the insurance claim process started. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the following steps may help guide you through important decisions you need to make if you’ve been in a car accident, whether you were at fault for the accident or not.
1. Safety First
- If the car accident is minor, move vehicles out of traffic to a safe place.
- Shift into park, turn off your vehicle, and turn on the hazard lights.
- Use cones, warning triangles, or flares for added safety, if you have them.
2. Get Help
- Check for injuries; call an ambulance when in doubt.
- Call the police, even if the accident is minor. A police report can be invaluable to the claim process and help establish who’s at fault.
3. Collect Information
- Gather information from others involved in the accident.
- Drivers and passengers: names and contact information.
- Vehicle descriptions (make, model, year).
- Driver’s license numbers – License plate numbers.
- Insurance companies and policy numbers.
- Eyewitnesses: names and contact information.
- Accident scene location and/or address.
- Police officer’s name and badge number.
- Take photos of all vehicles involved and the accident scene, if it is safe to do so.
- Do not sign any document unless it’s for the police or your insurance agent.
- Be polite, but don’t tell anyone the accident was your fault, even if you think it was.
4. File a Claim
- You can start the claim process immediately at the scene and add details when things are calmer.
- Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible.