At the very least, a car accident becomes a jarring but temporary interruption to the routine of your regular life. But it can easily devolve into a more permanent disaster. Protect yourself physically, legally, and financially after such an emergency by following these tips.
● Check everybody out. Your first responsibility after the accident is to make sure that everyone involved is okay. Check yourself out for injuries and then ask your passengers to do the same for each other. Then move on to any other involved parties, such as passengers in the other vehicle or pedestrians. Make note of even the slightest pains because they could become something more serious later. If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately to summon first-responders.
● Stay safe. When possible move everyone and everything out of the flow of traffic to a safer location, such as a parking lot. If your car must remain on the road, turn on its blinkers and find a way to divert traffic around you, such as with the use of orange cones or road flares.
● Document what happened. Write down what happened using the memo or texting function of your smartphone and ask your passengers to do the same. Put down specific details such as time of day, speed limits, traffic and weather conditions, street locations, license plate numbers, and the interactions among vehicles and pedestrians.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so get out of your car and take photos of any damage, vehicles involved, the people in other vehicles, potential witnesses, traffic signs, road conditions, buildings and property damage, and the natural environment. Any one of these details can become important to the accident investigation.
● Exchange insurance info. Exchange contact and vehicle insurance information with the involved parties, including names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance company names, policy numbers, and insurance agent names. It's important not to say anything more than the basics, particularly if you have an SR-22. Do not admit fault. Anything you say may be used in claims against you.
● Contact your vehicle insurance company. Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible, preferably while you're still at the scene. They may ask you to record additional details while you're there. They may also request that you forward all records to them so they can process your claim. They will typically take care of any issues involving the other parties and their insurance companies, so there's no need to discuss these details with anyone else.
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