What To Do After an Auto Accident

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What should you do after an auto accident?  Be prepared with this auto accident checklist.  Today, I’m returning to one of our popular categories, automobiles.   See the prior posts here.

Accidents can ruin more than your day or even your car.  It’s a stressful time, so photocopy this checklist and keep it in your glove compartment.  Laws differ from state to state for reporting accidents, whether police will respond to minor accidents, who you should report an accident to, and how long you have for reporting an accident.  In all jurisdictions, you need to report an auto accident when there is an injury or serious damage that exceeds a certain dollar level, but that level varies widely.

Auto Accident Checklist

  1. Stay calm.  Don’t be confrontational.  Don’t get into whose fault it was.
  2. Check to see if anyone is hurt.  Unless safety is an issue, don’t try to move an injured person.
  3. Call 911 and report the accident with location and condition of the people and cars.  Follow their instructions whether to stay in the car, assist others, turn on your hazard lights, move the cars out of traffic, wait for police, or exchange information without expecting a police response.
  4. Take photos of the accident before any cars are moved.  Include the cars, damage, lane markings, surrounding area, and position of the cars.
  5. If practical, move your car out of traffic.  Wait in a safe location.  Watch for traffic.
  6. If it’s a minor incident, police may not respond.  If they do, be ready to provide them your license, registration, and insurance papers.  For insurance and follow-up, get the police officer’s name and the case number.
  7. If police do not respond because it is a minor accident, then exchange information with the other driver without getting into whose fault it is.  You should still file an accident report with your insurance company and local police station (forms may be on the DMV website).  Get this information:
    • Driver’s information, license number, address, and telephone number.
    • Driver’s insurance information, company name, and policy number.
    • License plate and state.
    • Car make, model, year, and color.
    • Contact information of witnesses and passengers.
    • Condition of passengers, driver, and car.
    • Location, time and road conditions.
    • Anything else that is potentially relevant for the insurance claim.
  8. Usually, you should never leave the scene of an accident until the 911 dispatcher or police officer tells you to.  However, in some states police won’t respond to minor accidents.  If damage is minor, photograph the scene, move your car out of traffic, exchange information, leave without a police report, and file a report with your required state agency and insurance company.
  9. Record your description of the accident while you are waiting or very soon afterwards.  Include these details:  what happened, description of drivers and passengers, damage to cars, and any information needed for the insurance report.  Try to get information about witnesses.
  10. Report the accident to your insurance company even if it is a minor accident.  They will assist you through the process.

More information

These smartphone/tablet apps are handy for car owners.

RepairPal  –  Keep track of your auto repairs and maintenance schedule, find local repair shops, and best of all – gives you repair estimates for a variety of common repair costs.

iWrecked – iWrecked is an auto accident assistant for easily logging all details, photos, and info after being involved in an accident.

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