A car crash can quickly turn your life upside down. Between your shock and disbelief, you may not think clearly right after it happens. Nevertheless, you need to keep your wits about you as much as possible. Why? Because what you do next may well impact your life — either positively or negatively — for the next several months or longer.
Here are the six most important things you should do:
- Stay at the scene
Do not leave the accident scene until law enforcement officers permit you to do so. If you leave too early, you could face charges of hit-and-run and/or leaving the scene of an accident.
- Check for injuries
Assess the status of yourself and your passengers. Then do likewise for all the other drivers and passengers involved. If anyone appears to have sustained possibly serious injuries, call 911 and request emergency medical and law enforcement assistance.
- Gather driver information
Talk to each of the other drivers to obtain the following information:
- Name, address, phone number and email address
- Driver’s license state and number
- Vehicle license plate state and number
- Insurance company name and phone number
- Gather property damage evidence
Take photos of the following for each vehicle involved in the accident, including yours:
- License plate
- Make and model
- Apparently new damage
- Apparently old damage
- Make a police report
When officers arrive, answer their questions honestly, but do not volunteer additional information. For instance, never say or imply that you think you caused the accident. This represents an admission against interest that officers and/or other drivers could later use against you in court. Be sure to jot down the officers’ names and badge numbers, the police report number, and ask them when, where and how you can obtain a copy.
- Notify your insurance company
Call your auto insurance company and report the accident. As when talking to officers, however, do not speculate as to who or what caused it. Instead, tell the representative that officers are currently investigating everything and give him or her the police report number.
Unfortunately, car accidents often lead to denied insurance claims and litigation between and among those involved. The information you give and gather immediately after yours may well make your life easier.