If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know how stressful the scene following can be. The surprise of the accident can make it easy to forget what all you need to do, and there are a few things that are important to remember NOT to do. Review your California auto insurance policy, to be sure that you’ll have adequate coverage if an accident were to happen, and read the checklist below for tips on what to do at the accident scene.
WHAT TO DO
Pull Over: It’s almost never a good idea to leave your car in the middle of the road after an accident. It can create a hazard for you or other drivers on the road. If at all possible, pull your vehicle to the side of the road and away from traffic.
Check for Injuries: Before anything else, check with everyone involved for injuries. If someone is injured significantly, don’t attempt to move the person – call 911 and wait for the paramedics to arrive.
Call the Police: Police don’t usually come to an accident scene unless it is significant and/or there are injuries, but it’s a best practice to call them anyway and let them determine whether or not they are needed. If the other party is confrontational or uncooperative, having the police involved and aware will be important & helpful in the claims process. The police report cannot usually be used as evidence, due to privacy laws, but the officer could testify about the scene of the accident.
Take Photos: Most of us have cameras in our cell phones – use it to take pictures of the accident scene, debris from the crash, skid marks on the road, both vehicles involved, and visible injuries.
Check for Witnesses: If anyone witnessed the accident, get their name, contact information, and any information they can provide about what they saw.
Exchange Information: Collect the name, phone number, address, and insurance information of the other party, and provide yours to them. Document the VIN# of their vehicle & the license plate number, or take a photo.
Call Your Insurance Company: Don’t delay reporting the accident to your insurance company – call to notify them about the accident, and if need be begin the claims process.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Admit Fault: Even if you feel the accident was your fault, don’t admit to it – it can be used against you later. There are a number of factors that could have contributed to the accident that could shift responsibility to the other driver. The insurance companies representing you will ultimately determine fault.
Discuss Your Policy: If the other driver is aware of your California auto insurance policy limits, if may motivate them to exaggerate their claim. To be safe, don’t discuss any policy details with the other party.
Review this checklist occasionally to keep it fresh in your mind. If you happen to find yourself involved in an accident, you’ll be prepared.