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What to Do in a Car Accident

Posted by Auto.com Staff | Jan 2, 2019

If you are involved in a car accident, the first thing you’ll want to do is move the vehicle to a safe place, if at all possible. Depending on the severity of the accident, this won’t always be possible – and that is ok. But if you are involved in a minor fender-bender in a high-traffic area, everyone involved will be much safer if you pull the vehicles off to the side of the road. In addition to reducing the risk of further damages or injury, this will make it easier for you to exchange information with any other affected parties. When the cars are out of traffic, shut the engine off and exit the vehicle.

Once you and the vehicles are out of harm's way, you can take stock of the damage. Make sure that everyone is OK and see if anyone needs medical assistance. Even seemingly minor injuries may require professional assistance. If in doubt, call 911 and explain the situation to the operator. Even if everyone insists they don’t need an ambulance, it may be a good idea to call the police. Depending on how serious the accident was, your insurance company may request (or require) a police report as part of the claim.

You will want to make sure to get as much information as possible: the names of everyone involved (including passengers), their contact information, license plate numbers, make and model information of all cars involved and the insurance information of the other driver or drivers involved. Your own insurance company may require additional information.

This is why it is also a good idea to talk to your insurance agent and get their advice on the steps to take in the event you are in an accident. Many insurance companies have a mobile app you can download onto your smartphone so that you can easily record photos of the crash, damages and documents as part of any potential insurance claim.

If an app isn’t an option for you, make sure to take as many pictures as possible to document the accident scene. If you don’t have your phone on you, or it was damaged in the accident, see if you can borrow a phone and call your insurance agent for further advice.

The best thing you can do for an accident is to prepare for the possibility beforehand. At the time of a car accident, nerves and adrenaline run high, which means you may not be thinking with a clear head. Whether you are the driver or a passenger, knowing how to handle things in the event of the crash can be beneficial to everyone involved. If you are worried that you might forget something, consider coming up with a checklist that you can keep in the car at all times. This way, in the unfortunate even that you find yourself in an accident, you will know exactly what you need to do.

Additionally, before getting in the vehicle, you should always make sure you know where your important paperwork is. You want to make sure you know where your valid vehicle registration and proof of insurance are kept in the car, and make sure you have your driver’s license on you whenever you get behind the wheel.