Most drivers make costly, long-term decision errors immediately following an accident as fear gives way to anger and frustration. Questions race through your head faster than the mind can register them. Who was at fault? Will my car ever be right again? What are my rights and responsibilities? A calm and informed reaction to an accident will reduce your chances for additional grief and expense.
• Move your vehicle to a safe place, then stop and identify yourself to the other driver. (Some state or local statutes may require the vehicle be left as is.) If it can’t be moved, turn on the hazard lights. Seek medical help if you or other parties require it, and notify the police. Tell them who you are, where you are, and about any obvious or claimed injuries.
• Exchange information with the other driver(s) including driver’s license numbers. Get the driver’s name, address,telephone numbers and name of insurance company. Also, list any passengers and witnesses.
• Get names and badge numbers of any police officers who arrive at the scene. If there are injuries or extensive damage, the police should file a report. Ask to get a copy.
• Avoid any extensive discussions at the scene about who is responsible for damage. If the other person admits responsibility, offers a money settlement and you accept, any future claim against the driver may be compromised. You or the other party may later find damage and bodily injury not apparent at first.
• Write a complete description of the accident as soon aspossible. Include weather conditions, estimated speeds, and as much precise information as you can observe. Take photographs if a camera is available.
• Have the vehicle towed or driven to a collision repair facility of your choice.
• Notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible.