What to Do After an Auto Accident
By Jeff Youngs, August 10, 2012
Below are some things to do if you are involved in an auto accident:
- Shut off the engine and activate hazard lights. If possible, turn off your engine to reduce the likelihood of igniting leaking fluids, and activate your hazard lights to let other drivers approaching the scene of the collision know that caution is advised.
- Make sure everyone is okay. If the air bags have deployed due to a more serious collision, it is important to check to see if everyone is OK, or if there are injuries requiring medical attention.
- Call for help. Once you've checked on everyone's condition, call 9-1-1 for help. Be sure to indicate the severity and scope of the accident.
- Document the scene. If you have a phone with a camera, take pictures of the crash scene from multiple angles. These images may be useful in the event of a lawsuit as a way to support a claim or defend against one.
- Move vehicles out of traffic lanes. If the vehicles involved in the accident can still be driven, it is best to move them to the side of the road to wait for authorities and to obtain information from the other driver(s). This is a wise move to protect you, your passengers, and the other motorists from further injury or damage, especially during inclement weather situations or at night.
- Get information from other driver(s). Be sure to get the name, driver's license number, address, and phone number of the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Also, note the insurance company, issuing agent, and policy number from the other drivers' auto insurance cards. Additionally, write down the make, model, color, and license plate numbers of the vehicles involved.
- Do not admit or assign fault. When speaking with other motorists involved in the accident, refrain from admitting or assigning fault. Save that for discussion with authorities once they arrive on scene.
- Notify your insurance company. After authorities have completed documenting the scene of the accident, call your insurance company to report the accident. The insurance company will want all of the information you have collected, and will begin the insurance claims process.
- Hit-and-run situations. You may find yourself in a hit-and-run situation. A hit-and-run accident is one after which one or more of the other drivers leaves the scene before authorities arrive. If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, as the other driver is leaving, try to note the make, model, color, and license plate of the departing vehicle. Even a partial license plate sequence, when matched to a make and model, can result in the detection of the other motorist(s) involved.