August 7, 2020

What should I do if I’m in an automobile accident?

If you are involved in an auto accident, knowing what to do can help you stay calm and get the necessary information to make things easier down the road.

Start by checking to make sure everyone involved is all right and call 911 if necessary. Protect yourself and your property from further injury or damage (ex: cautiously moving to an area on the side of the road away from moving vehicles). Consider notifying the police.

Exchange information with the other driver. Be sure to get the name, address, phone number, date of birth, license number, license expiration date and insurance company name of the driver; the year, make and model of the car as well as the license plate numbers; and the name, address, phone number and insurance company of the person to whom the vehicle is registered.

If there are any witnesses to the accident, ask for their names, addresses and telephone numbers.

If the police have been notified, take down the name and badge number of all law enforcement officers who arrive at the scene. Ask them where and when you will be able to get a copy of the accident report. If you are given a traffic ticket, sign the ticket (not signing could result in your being arrested) but do not pay the fee until you talk to your insurance agent.

Try to document the accident by making a diagram, writing down everything you remember, and, if possible, taking pictures of the scene and the position of the cars. Details are important, so note down everything you can – your speed, the weather, road conditions, skid marks and whether the streetlights are on if the accident takes place at night.

During your conversations with people at the scene, including police officers, do not volunteer any information about who was to blame for the accident. You may think you are in the wrong and then learn that the other driver is as much or more to blame than you are, or vice versa. You should first talk to your insurance agent, your lawyer or both. Anything you say to the police or the other driver can be used against you later.

Call your insurance agent as soon as possible to file a claim.

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