What to do in case of a car accident
Unfortunately each year thousands of people are involved in traffic accidents. In spite of relentless efforts to increase road safety and awareness about preventive measures, the human and economic burden because of car accidents increase steadily.
However very few people know precisely what to do in the aftermath of a collision. This knowledge is very important. It can help prevent further injuries, minimize costs, facilitate further actions relevant to insurance matters and repairs.
It is important in the frame of actions taken in order to educate the drivers not to omit to stress out what the drivers need to know about and have to do when dealing with an accident.
Whether it is simply a bump in the parking lot or if it is a more serious accident where people are injured, taking the right actions immediately can save lives and improve the outcome for everyone involved.
Additionally it may be that by not following the right procedure, your insurance company could face difficulties to pay your claims. You should be as well aware that if you do not follow the proper procedures you may end up having problems with the law and have consequences and fines to pay.
You should be able to follow the right steps so that when you file police reports and when you file for insurance compensation no unwanted omissions or obstacles appear.
The first important thing if you are involved in car accident is to try to stay calm and concentrated
Having always first aid supplies and an emergency kit in your car is a good precautionary measure. Flares, a bright orange or yellow vest, a cell phone, a disposable camera are objects that can provide great help and is good to have them in your car with you.
Pen and papers are necessary items that you may have in your gloves department. This will allow you to make notes.
Information that you should collect
1. The names, phones and addresses of all drivers, passengers and witnesses involved in the accident
2. License plate numbers, driver's license numbers
3. Insurance companies of all drivers involved
4. Registered owners of all cars
5. Year, model, make and other relevant information of all cars involved
6. Names and badge numbers of police officers and other emergency personnel
In case that you are in a moving vehicle when an accident occurs, immediately and safely pull over to the side of the road. Turn off your car and turn on your hazard lights.
Check to see if anyone is hurt. If there is an injured person, do not move them until you take standard first aid measures. Try to help injured persons if you are trained in administering first aid.
Place flares, cones, or triangles alongside the road before and the accident so that passing traffic will be aware that an accident happened ahead and therefore more attention will be provided to avoid more accidents.
You or somebody else should call the police if there is an accident involving injury or substantial damage to property. Stay at the scene of the accident until the police tells you to leave. If you are not sure about the damage caused and in case of any doubt prefer to call the police. Leaving the scene of an accident can be illegal so you better take a careful approach before you act.
When informing the police about the accident you should tell them about injured people and if possible the number of them. This will allow them while coming to the scene of accident, to mobilize enough emergency personnel to provide all aid necessary.
You can also photograph the scene of the accident so that you will have documentation about the damage to all vehicles. Try to get an overall picture of the accident so that your claims later will be facilitated.
Take notes of what you think happened and caused the accident. In your description you should include the location where the accident occurred and if possible the road conditions, speed limits, traffic control devices, the weather, the lighting.
Try to avoid discussing what happened with anyone else except the police. Limit yourself in only describing facts. Do not make accusations and do not say that it was your fault.
Even if you think that you are at fault do not admit liability. It is possible that there are unknown factors to you that played a role. This could make the situation different that what you initially perceive. Comments that you may make could be counterproductive or even used against you later.
Immediately report the accident to your insurance company and to the police and in respect to your insurance policy provisions and the relevant law.
In all cases the driver must carry with him/her his/her insurance certificate.
In case of an accident the insured and the authorized driver must report and submit a written deposition (claim form) to the insurance company and not later than 48 hours after the accident.
If you have or suspect that you have an injury, visit a hospital or a doctor immediately. This will allow you to get proper medical care if you need it but it may have as well legal implications later.
If you cannot prove that you suffered injury at the accident with a medical report from a doctor that examined you immediately after the accident, you may face difficulties for your claims as well as in litigious cases with the other drivers.
By following these simple steps you will be able to keep the accident scene as safe as possible, assure that nobody else is injured, harmed or more damaged after the accident and to protect your rights.
Knowing in advance how to proceed when involved in any type of car accident, helps you stay calm, take the appropriate measures and make the best possible of a difficult, dangerous or even tragic situation.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety