No one wants to think about being in a crash, but knowing how to handle a car accident can
help prevent exponential heartache and stress in the unfortunate event of a collision.
The Insurance Information Institute outlines the best steps to take if you’ve been in a crash,
regardless of who is at fault. Knowing these guidelines can help you prevent mistakes
commonly made in the hectic moments immediately following a wreck.
1) Scan yourself and any passengers for injuries.
If there are injuries, report them immediately to 911. Injured drivers should avoid movement if
they can, and remain in place while emergency personnel are dispatched. Likewise, if you have
a passenger who is injured, do not attempt to move them. Stay put and wait for help. Should
you be unable to call 911 yourself, attempt to enlist the help of a witness or bystander.
2) Move to safety
Whenever possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road. This will help you avoid any
additional hazards brought about by blocking lanes or interfering with traffic. If your automobile
is inoperable, turn your hazard lights on and get yourself to a safe place until help arrives.
3) Notify the authorities
The severity of the crash is not something you should immediately attempt to determine. What
appears at first glance to be a minor fender-bender can result in injury and damages that may
not be immediately noticeable. Contacting local police after a crash is standard procedure and
is often required by law. It also helps encourage everyone involved to take the proper, legal
routes in terms of handling the accident. When police arrive, they will document the scene and
guide you through an accident report. You will need this report to file a claim with your insurer.
4) Document the accident
Make every effort to properly document the crash. This will include obtaining officer names and
badge numbers, collecting a copy of your accident report, speaking with any witnesses, and
noting the names of everyone involved, including passengers in the other vehicle. The most
important aspect of your documentation is the exchange of information with the other driver.
You’ll need to collect the following: their full name and contact information, their driver’s
insurance number and policy number, their driver’s license and license plate number, the make
and model of their vehicle, and the location of the collision. Another critical piece of
documentation will be your collision photos. Get pictures of the other car’s license plate and
any damage to either vehicle. These photos can be shared with your insurer when you make
5) Begin the claims process
Contact your insurance agent at the scene or shortly after you get home. Your agent will guide
you through the process and collect the details necessary to process your claim.
The moments immediately after an automobile accident can be chaotic, confusing and
frustrating. Keeping the above steps in mind will help ensure that you’re as prepared as
possible should you have the misfortune of experiencing a crash.