A car accident, even a minor fender-bender, is a stressful, upsetting experience for everyone involved. As a driver or passenger, however, it is important to collect yourself and remain calm. There are a few steps you need to take following an accident.
1. Consider injuries and safety.
How do you feel? What about your passengers, if you were driving? If anyone has been injured, call 911 or ask someone else to do it for you. Once you have dealt with possible injuries, get to safety while you wait for help to arrive. If your car poses a hazard to traffic and the vehicle can be driven, move it to the side of the road. Otherwise, leave it where it is. Turn the engine off, turn the hazard lights on and, if you have any flares, use those to warn oncoming traffic.
2. Call the authorities.
Even if the accident is just a minor one, you need to call the authorities. When they arrive, take down the name and badge number of each officer and ask for a copy of their accident report. Next, place a call to your insurance company. While you are still at the scene of the accident, they can tell you what kind of information they need to process your claim.
3. Make a record.
Document the car accident as best you can. Were there any witnesses? Write down their names and addresses. Some insurance companies give out accident forms or you can create one on your own that records the location, time, date and other details of the crash. Finally, take pictures of the damage to both cars from different angles as well as o f the accident scene itself. Mobile phones are handy for this kind of task.
4. Exchange information.
Make sure that you exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle. This would include the person’s name, address and contact information, such as phone number and email address. You will also need the name of the driver’s insurance company and the policy number. Remember to write down the type, model, year and color of the other car involved.
5. Consult an attorney.
Whether you have only suffered a sprained neck from the car accident or a more serious injury, you should seek the services of an attorney who is accustomed to dealing with auto insurance companies. These companies are experienced at reducing the amount of compensation due to an accident victim and may even deny your claim altogether. An attorney understands the tactics employed by insurers and uses his or her legal skills and knowledge to negotiate for an appropriate settlement.