Tips for What to Do After a Car Accident
Being in a car accident is such a jolt to your system. And with so much going on in the immediate aftermath, there are some important things to keep in mind.
- Stay as calm as possible. Breathe deeply, count to ten, think of the ocean; whatever helps you slow down your heart rate and focus.
- Check for injuries. Remember that your adrenaline rush can mask symptoms. If you or anyone involved might be injured, call an ambulance immediately.
- Turn on your hazard lights. This lets drivers behind you know there's an incident ahead. If you have them, and it's safe to do so, you might also want to use orange cones, warning triangles, or safety flares.
- Get out of traffic. If the accident seems minor and there aren't any injuries, move cars out of the way and to the closest safe place.
- Call the police. They'll sort through the scene, talk to the involved parties, and write up an accident report.
- Notify your agent. An insurance agent can help you sort through your options, even if the accident was minor.
- Take notes. Things happen so quickly that it's easy to forget details. Jot down your recollections of the accident, including the damage to all cars. If possible, get the contact information of any witnesses.
- Don’t admit fault. Let the facts of the accident determine fault.
- Take pictures. If your cell phone can do it or if you've got a camera on hand and it's safe to do so, take photos of the accident scene and any damage to your car that you can see.
- Prevent further damage. If it doesn't put you or anyone else in harm's way, do what's possible to prevent any further damage to your vehicle.
- Exchange insurance information. If the name on the auto registration and/or insurance policy is different from the name of the driver, establish the relationship and note it.
- Stick with the facts. Be polite. Stay objective and be truthful.
- Stay. It always seems to take forever, but don't leave the scene of the accident until everything is taken care of.