In the United States, more than six million auto accidents happen every year.
Although most of these accidents only involve damage to the vehicles, about a third of them cause injuries to the drivers and/or passengers. In addition, roughly 20 percent of all accidents result in a fatal injury.
Whether an accident involves a car, truck, or motorcycle, it’s imperative to take the proper steps to deal with the situation.
Steps to Take After an Accident
- Always stop after an accident. Never leave the scene, even if the accident is minor.
- Turn your hazard lights on and set up flares, if necessary, to protect the accident scene and other drivers.
- Call the police for every car accident, even if there are no injuries. The police report will be useful if you need to file an insurance claim.
- Give an accurate accounting of the details of the accident to investigating officers. Never speculate or guess if you’re not sure about a detail. Never deny treatment for injuries immediately after an accident. Sometimes, an injury can take hours or days to become problematic.
- Take pictures of the vehicles to record the damage, but don’t interfere with the police investigation. Gather important details such as a description of all vehicles, license plate numbers, and vehicle identification numbers.
- Exchange information with all people involved in the accident, including insurance details for all vehicles involved. Get the police report number from the police.
- Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Be ready to tell the claims adjuster all of the details about the accident, including the date and time, location, your direction of travel, the driving conditions, and how the accident occurred. Also provide information about other parties involved, witnesses’ names and contact information, other insurance companies, and policy numbers.
- Get medical attention if you experience pain in the hours and days following the accident.
- Set up a file to manage all documentation related to the accident. The file should include the police report number, insurance claim number, name of the claims adjuster, contact information for all parties involved, and receipts for all expenses connected with the accident.
- Consult an attorney for assistance with getting full compensation for your damages.
Steps to Take if You Witness an Accident
- Ensure your safety by pulling over to the side of the road at least 100 feet away from the accident scene. Turn on your hazard lights.
- Always call 911, even for minor accidents. Never assume that someone else has called. Provide location details to the 911 operator.
- If it’s safe to approach the accident scene, check on the victims to see if you can help. Never move injured people unless there’s a risk of fire.
- Stabilize the vehicles, if possible. Ask the drivers to put their vehicles in park and turn the engines off. Set up flares to warn other drivers.
- Provide an official statement to authorities and claims agents. Be factual and consistent with your statement.
- So You’ve Had an Accident: What’s Next? Explore steps to take after an accident provided by the state of California.
- Car Accident Knowledge: Pulling over to the side of the road away from moving traffic is the first action to take, if possible, after an accident.
- What to Know About Your Insurance After a Car Accident: Keep a copy of your insurance card in your vehicle with your registration documents so you have this information after an accident.
- After an Accident: Your insurance company will assess the details of an accident to decide whether to pay your claim.
- How to Deal With a Car Accident: After moving your vehicle out of the way of traffic, get help for any injured people by calling 911 and the local police.
- Auto Accident Checklist: Assess the scene after an accident, and don’t get out of your vehicle unless it’s safe.
- Consumer Alert: Fender Bender Facts: Staying calm after an accident is important because you’ll need to proceed through many steps to assess the damage and injuries and report the accident to the police.
- Filing an Auto Claim With the Other Party’s Insurance Company: Filing an insurance claim is an important step after an accident, and you might need to file this claim with your own company or with the other party’s company.
- Car Seat Use After a Crash: Car seats should be replaced after moderate and severe car accidents to ensure safety.
- What to Do After a Car Accident: A Step-by-Step Guide: After assessing everyone for injuries and getting to safety, call the police to report a car accident.
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