What to do I the Aftermath of a Car Accident

I’m sure we would all prefer not to consider what would happen if we were in a car accident. With over 10 million car and light truck accidents in the US every year, the possibility exists that anyone could be involved in an auto accident at any time. Fortunately, most car accidents don’t involve serious injuries.

Since there is no telling when an accident might occur, or how serious it may be, it’s a good idea to be prepared. Make sure that you have adequate auto insurance and that your payments are up to date. If you are involved in a car accident, there are a few things you should be aware of.

Here are 7 valuable tips on what to do after a car accident:

1. Don’t Panic

It’s important to try remain calm following a car accident. You need to keep your wits about you. Never admit guilt or blame the other driver. Leave those decisions to law enforcement and/or insurance assessors.

2. Injury Assessment

Immediately check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If it looks like you or anyone else has incurred serious injuries, ask for help and contact 911 immediately. After establishing that you are not seriously injured check the occupants of the other vehicle for injuries.

3. Ensure that Your Vehicle is Safe

If it is possible, remove your vehicle from the road by moving it to the curb, out of the way of other vehicles on the road. At night, or in poor visibility, turn on the hazard lights. If it is not possible to move your vehicle to safety, ensure that you and your passengers get out of the vehicle and move to a safe place.

4. Check for Vehicle Damage

Make a detailed assessment of the damage to all vehicles involved in the accident. Make a note of the position of both vehicles, their direction, and any points of contact. It’s a good idea to take photographs – as many as you can. If you can’t photograph the vehicles, draw a diagram.

Document as much information as you can. This could prove to be incredibly valuable later.

5. Report the Accident to Law Enforcement

If the accident is serious, you will be required to inform law enforcement. When officers arrive at the scene of the accident, you will need to provide your driver’s license and possibly your auto insurance for their accident report.

6. Exchange Driver’s Information

You need to exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle. The minimum legal requirement for any state would be to exchange names and auto insurance details. Though some states may require more than this.

Best practice is to share as much information as possible like:

  • Phone numbers
  • Vehicle make and model
  • Contact information of any witnesses to the accident
  • Name, badge number, and contact information for a law enforcement officer at the scene of the accident.

7. Decide if You Want to File an Insurance Claim

You have auto insurance so that you are financially protected when you are involved in an accident. You will most likely want to claim for damages to your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, or any medical costs that may result from the accident.

If there is only minor damage and you are not liable for damage to the other vehicle, you may decide not to file a claim. You may not want to influence your no-claim record with your insurer to avoid premium increases. In some cases, the deductible may be more than the cost to repair the vehicle.