A car crash can be one of the most traumatizing events of your life. Even a relatively minor fender bender can leave you in a state of shock, denial and confusion. Unfortunately, however, you need to think clearly. Why? Because the things you do — or fail to do — immediately after an accident will either positively or negatively impact your claim and/or lawsuit process.
The most important thing to remember is that you should never leave the scene until law enforcement officers give you permission to do so. Leaving too soon can put you at risk for a charge of hit-and-run and/or leaving the scene.
As quickly as possible, check yourself, your passengers and the occupants of all other vehicles involved in the crash for injuries. Never move injured passengers or drivers unless absolutely necessary. You could cause them to sustain more serious injuries than they already have. Instead, call 911 and request emergency medical assistance, plus law enforcement assistance.
Do your best to obtain the following information from every other driver involved in the crash:
- Name and address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Driver’s license state and number
- Vehicle license plate state and number
- Insurance company name and phone number
As part of the information you gather, take pictures of your car and the other vehicles involved, paying particular attention to the following:
- Vehicle license plate
- Vehicle make and model
- Any damage that appears new or old
When law enforcement officials arrive, tell them that you want to make a police report. Then, briefly tell them your version of what happened, making sure to say nothing that would let them think that you may have caused the accident. Also, be sure to not only write down the officers’ names and badge numbers, but also to ask them when, where and how you can obtain a copy of the report.
Insurance company notification
Finally, call your own auto insurance company and report the accident. Again, say nothing to indicate that you may be at fault. Instead, tell the representative that law enforcement officers are investigating what happened and the number of the police report they will make.