When you’re involved in an accident, you’re understandably upset, anxious, fearful and, perhaps, unsure what you should do first. Keeping your cool and remaining calm are high on the list, but what else should you be doing? The AAA offers the following seven tips on what to do after a car crash that can not only ease your mind, but make you better prepared should you become involved in one.
- Tend to the injured. Immediately after you stop, your first priority should be to see if anyone is injured. If so, call 911 to seek medical attention right away. If no one is injured, make sure you are not in danger with your vehicle in the roadway, moving it off to the side of the road to ensure everyone’s safety.
- Control the scene. Along with moving vehicles to a safe spot on the side of the road or the right or left emergency lane. Turn on your hazard lights, set out emergency flares, and remain at the scene. Note that some state laws require vehicles to be moved from the roadway to prevent traffic congestion.
- Call the police, submit a report. No matter what the other party says, the law requires you to call the police. If the police do not come to the scene, file a report with your local police department or insurance agency in the days following the crash. Note that a written report may protect you later if a liability claim is filed.
- Exchange information and document the scene. Information is critical, and that includes noting all the particulars about the accident, drawing a diagram, detailing everything you can, including getting witness information. Other items the AAA recommends you document include:
- Addresses/email address
- Information about vehicles: make, model, and year – for all vehicles involved in the crash
- License plate numbers and vehicle identification numbers (VINs)
- Driver’s license numbers
- Insurance carriers and policy numbers
- Photos – Take of the location, vehicles involved, any damages, and people involved
- Call your insurance company. The sooner you contact your insurance company about the accident, whether or not you were at fault, the better. Most insurers have claims personnel available 24/7. Having your proof of insurance in the car (required by state law) also makes it easier to file a claim when you’re away from home.
- Get your car repaired. Consumers have the right to have their damaged vehicle repaired at a body shop of their own choosing. In addition to the repair facilities your auto insurer recommends, consider looking at a AAA Approved Auto Body Shop.
- If the accident involves an unattended vehicle or property…You still need to take action. Attempt to locate and notify the owner of the unattended vehicle or the property. If this isn’t possible, at least attach a note to the other vehicle or the damaged property, being sure to list your name and contact information, as well as the other items included in point #4 above.
Remember, knowing what to do after a car crash – before it happens – can help make the situation a little less stressful. Being prepared is a whole lot better than sitting around without a plan – and losing valuable time and perhaps forgetting to get the necessary information when you need it most.