Many drivers don’t know what to do immediately following a car accident, leading them to make decisions that can harm them in the long run. Here, we’ll share the most important do’s, and dont’s in hopes that if you ever find yourself in an automobile accident, you’ll feel empowered to make decisions that won’t hurt your case later.
Important Steps You Should Take:
- You should report the accident to law enforcement. All too often, drivers get caught up in the moment, feeling overwhelmed by guilt or the anger or emotions of the other driver, and decide not to report the accident. Damage caused by unreported accidents may not be covered by your insurance policy and, in some states, may not be repaired legally. Always call 911 or your local non-emergency law enforcement line to report an accident as soon as it happens.
- You should notify your insurance agent. Your agent can provide invaluable advice after the accident to help you make the best decisions and best preserve the details of the accident while your memory is fresh.
- You should cooperate with the police. Assist them in completing the police report by answering their questions accurately. Don’t leave the scene of the acccident until the law enforcement officer tells you they have everything they need.
- You should get the other driver’s insurance information. Ask the other driver for a copy of their insurance card and provide a copy of yours as well. You can take a picture of both sides of the card with your phone or jot down information on a piece of scratch paper.
- You should note other details surrounding the accident. Include the names and contact information of other drivers and passengers in any vehicle involved, the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident, a description of what happened in detail, and a description of any noticeable damage to vehicles.
- You should remain calm. Before you get out of your vehicle, take a deep breath, and work to manage your emotions. Becoming emotional can cloud your judgment and lead to admit fault, become aggressive, or leave the scene of an accident – all things that can get you in trouble later.
Things You Shouldn’t Do:
- Don’t leave the scene of the accident. Always, always, always notify law enforcement and follow their guidance before you leave, even if you don’t see any damage.
- Don’t admit fault. If you admit fault, your insurance company becomes responsible for the damages that occurred. In many cases, a driver who thinks they were at fault is found not to be after an investigation is conducted.
- Don’t discuss the accident with other parties. You can answer any questions asked by law enforcement and you can discuss the accident with your insurance agent, but don’t discuss details with other drivers or witnesses.
Once law enforcement clears you, you can work with your agent to file a claim and start next steps.
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