More than five million car accidents are reported every year in the U.S. Even when you do everything right; odds are you will be involved in a crash at some point in your driving life.
What you do in the minutes after the crash are critically important for both financial and legal reasons.
Here are the five things to do after a car accident
1. Protect Yourself and Your Passengers
It’s not unusual to feel frantic, fearful, or faint right after an accident. The first thing you should do is to make sure you and your passengers are safe.
If possible, move your vehicle out of traffic by pulling to the side of the road or into a parking lot. If you can’t move your car, turn on your hazard lights and pop the hood. Set out safety cones behind your vehicle if you have any.
2. Check for Injuries
Determine if you or someone in your vehicle is injured–even get what appears to be minor cuts or bumps should be checked out. Call 9-1-1 for emergency medical care if you believe someone in your vehicle is hurt.
Most states have a statute of limitations on how long you have to report injuries after a car accident. It’s in your best interest to summon help right after the accident. Some injuries, especially ones to the head and neck, aren’t obvious at first.
3. Call the Police After the Crash
You may not want to file a police report if the accident looks minor, but you need an official record. Some insurance companies require a police report as part of your claim.
There simply isn’t any way to know what may happen in the hours and days after your accident. Your injuries may be more serious than you originally thought. The other driver may claim it was all your fault.
The damage to your vehicle may be worse than it looks. Even a slow-speed crash can cause damages in excess of $6,000.
4. Gather Information
Memories can be unreliable under the best circumstances. Don’t rely on yours after an accident. Evidence preservation is important, so begin by asking the other driver (if there is one) for their information.
Here’s the information to request:
- Phone number and email address
- Insurance information
- Make, model, year and color of their car
- Driver’s license information
You’ll also want to document the damage to your vehicle and the other driver’s, if possible.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners(NAIC) offers WreckCheck. It’s an app you can download from the App Store. You can record valuable information like the date and time of the accident, photos of the damage, and your written report. You then email the whole thing to your insurance agenct.
If you don’t own a smartphone or prefer not to download the app, you can download this checklist and keep in your car.
5. File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
You can report the accident to your insurance company from the scene and get the process started. This is the biggest reason why that documentation is so important. Your agent will want all that information to begin processing your claim.
Let your agent know if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. Approximately 13 percent of drivers are uninsured. Make sure to ask your agent to check your policy and verify that you have uninsured motorist coverage.
You should also know accidents caused by road rage incidents are not covered under many auto insurance policies. The insurance companies generally maintain that damage from a road rage incident was caused by risky behavior.
We hope this article was helpful in explaining what you should do after the crash. Please check out our blog for more driving-related tips and information.