Car accidents are no walk in the park. Despite your best efforts to avoid getting into a crash, you still might experience one or two in your lifetime. But do you know what to do once you get into a car accident? In the blog below, we list 10 steps you should take after you get into a car accident.
1. Take Deep Breaths
First and foremost, after you’ve been in an accident, you should try to stay as calm as possible. The accident will likely have increased your adrenaline, but taking deep breaths will help you calm down and keep a clear head.
2. Remain at the Scene
Whether you caused the accident or another driver is at fault, you should remain at the scene. When the authorities arrive, you’ll want to speak with them and tell them what happened. Additionally, if you caused the accident and left the scene, you could be charged with a hit-and-run offense.
While you wait at the scene, turn on your hazard lights to let others driving around you know that there’s been an accident.
3. Look for Injuries
If possible, examine yourself for injuries. If you have other passengers in your car, also check them for injuries. When you call the authorities, you’ll want to know who has been injured so the police can send the proper professionals to the accident scene.
If you are able to, talk to the other driver and his or her passengers to make sure that they haven’t suffered any serious injuries.
4. Call the Authorities and Paramedics
After you’ve calmed down and assessed the extent of your injuries, call the police immediately. If your accident occurred on a major highway or on the interstate, you’ll want to call highway patrol. Tell the dispatcher if anyone involved in the accident has suffered from an injury so that paramedics can be sent to the scene.
5. Exchange Information
While you wait for the police and medical personnel to arrive, exchange personal and insurance information with the other driver. You can either write down the information on a piece of paper or type it into your phone.
- Exchange the following details with the other driver:
- Full names
- Names and contact information of insurance providers
- Insurance policy number
- Car makes and models
- Approximate time of the accident
- Location of the accident
- License plate state and number
- Phone numbers
If there were any passengers in either vehicle or witnesses who saw the accident, you’ll also want to get their names, phone numbers, and addresses. Make sure to exchange information off to the side of the road so you don’t endanger yourself or impede the flow of traffic.
6. Take Pictures
If you have a camera in your car or on your phone, use it to take pictures of the damage your car sustained from the accident. You should also take pictures of the other driver’s car. If you take pictures with your phone, email copies of these photos to yourself so you have backups in case anything happens to your phone.
7. Fill Out a Police Report
Once the police arrive on the scene, they’ll ask you and the other driver what caused the accident. After the officer takes down your information and the other driver’s information, he or she will have each person involved (including passengers and witnesses) fill out a police report.
You can typically pick up a copy of the police report a few days after the accident occurred. Your insurance provider will want a copy of the report to determine who was at fault for the accident. The police officer will also give you a case number that you’ll need to give to your insurance provider.
8. Call Your Insurance Provider and File a Claim
You should contact your insurance company and file a claim as soon after the accident as possible. Most providers have a 24-hour number you can call. Give the representative the following information:
- Your name
- Your policy number
- The accident case number
- The location and time of the accident
- The other driver’s information
You can also get in touch with the other driver’s insurance agency to check and see if he or she filed a claim after the accident. This tip ensures that the liable party is held responsible for his or her actions.
9. Contact an Auto Body Repair Shop
If your car wasn’t too badly damaged in the accident, you’ll want to repair it quickly. After you’ve taken the previous eight steps, call a local auto body repair shop to schedule their repair services.
Do your research online and read up on reviews from other customers. Use online resources such as the Better Business Bureau to find out if the shop you’re considering has a good rating. Insurance companies often try to steer their customers to their “preferred shop”, this is usually in their best interest and not your own. Most states, including Nebraska and Iowa, have laws allowing for every consumer to choose their own repair shop.
Most shops can repair any kind of damage on a car so long as the repair costs don’t exceed the car’s current value. If the repair costs are higher than the car is worth, your car will total out and you’ll likely need to buy a new car.
10. Hold on to Any Related Paperwork
Finally, hold on to any paperwork associated with your case. Even if months pass by, you could still need that information to settle the property damage and personal injury claims with the insurance companies.
If you were involved in a car accident, take the steps listed above as soon after the crash as possible. And when you need to have body work done on your car to restore it to its previous condition, contact a trusted auto body shop to do the work for you. For more tips and information, read through our other blog posts.