Most accidents are fender benders where no one is injured – but these kinds of accidents can cause almost as much stress as a ten-car pileup if you think you may be at fault. Take these steps after an accident to ensure that all parties involved are held responsible, and to ensure that filing your claim goes smoothly and easily.
The first thing to do is make sure everyone is safe. Before you start asking for information or laying blame on anyone, you must assess the situation and call 9-1-1 if anyone is injured. In most accidents, the cars will be more damaged than the drivers and passengers. Once you and the other driver have determined that this is the case with your own fender bender, use the following checklist:
What to do in a minor accident:
- Move off the road to a place you agree upon (i.e. the shoulder or the nearest parking lot). If your car is drivable and conditions are safe, you should clear the lane for traffic. Note the license plate number of the other car before you move (in case he decides to keep moving!). If moving the vehicles is impossible or unsafe, use your four-way flashers and any flares you may have to prevent other cars from hitting the disabled vehicles.
- Exit your vehicle and get the other driver’s contact information.
- Write down the other driver’s vehicle information and a description of the visible damage to the vehicles.
- Write down any conditions that may have affected the accident, such as fog, heavy rain, road construction, etc.
- Most important to your information gathering is the other driver’s insurance and license information. Write this down, including his or her policy number. If it is determined that you are not responsible for the accident, you will need this information.
- If there is contention about what went on in the accident, or if someone was in obvious violation of the law and this led to the accident, call the police to submit a report. No matter who decides the police need to be called, the other driver must remain on the scene until they show up.
- If you have a camera or cell phone with you, take photos of the damage, skid marks, and other “evidence” at the scene.
- Do not admit fault. Your insurance representatives will review your information, the vehicle damage, and any police reports to determine who is at fault.
- When you get home, call your insurance agent to make a claim. He or she will walk you through the claims process.
Some rules for the road:
- Keep a notepad in your car – otherwise you will have no way to record any accident information!
- Never leave the scene of an accident without gathering the required information for processing a claim. If you hit a car you will almost certainly be frightened, but leaving the scene will only make things worse for you in the end.
- Be honest with your insurance agent. To do otherwise may cause delays in the payment of your claim.
This information is brought to you courtesy of Accurate Auto Insurance, leaders in low-cost Chicago and Illinois auto insurance.