Getting into an auto accident can be one of the scariest, most frustrating and costly things that can happen to you. Once you determine that no one involved needs medical attention, there are some important procedures you should follow to ensure your protection. First and foremost, it is important to stay calm. If you panic after the accident, you may miss some important details while evaluating the situation. Notify Police and file a report. No matter how small, this is a very important step. This report will serve as an official document if a legal issue should arise. Do not leave the scene until the officer allows you to. Don’t admit fault and don’t discuss the accident with anyone except the police officer and your car insurance company. In some jurisdictions, police may not respond to the scene unless there are injuries. In this case, you can file a “counter report” at the local police station.
Exchange information with the other people involved. It is very important to get as much information as possible. Ask for the following:
– First and Last Name
– Drivers License Number
– Phone Number(s) – Home, Work, Cellular
– Physical address and email address
– Insurance Company and Policy Number
– Names of others involved
– License plate number(s) of all involved vehicles
If you have a camera handy (don’t forget about cell phone cameras), take pictures of the scene. If no camera is available at the scene, take pictures once you have a camera. This can help with the claim and for legal purposes. Next, it is important to write down all you can remember about the accident. Include time of day, street names, which direction you were headed, etc. If there is a legal suit filed, it can take months to sort it all out. When recalling the events, you may not remember them as they happened, and this document will help jog your memory or help your legal counsel. It is also important to review your policy and file a claim with your insurance company. Do this as soon as you can to get the process started toward repairing your damaged vehicle. Finally, in California you are obligated to report any accident that 1) results in a total of $750 of damage or more and/or 2) involves injuries to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The reporting form is called an “SR-1”. Your insurance carrier may file this form on your behalf, but if they do not it is your obligation to do so.
This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverages in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.