You’re in a very vulnerable position any time you get into a crash, so what do you do when you get in a car accident? The first thing to do is get your car off the road into a safe spot away from moving cars. If you’re injured, call 911.
If you’re not injured, write down the license plate of the other car BEFORE exiting, and get out to meet with the other driver. You never know if the other person will be hostile, so it’s important to have at least some sort of identification in case they try to harm you or drive off. If they act violent or aggressively then get back in your car, lock the doors, and call 911 immediately.
If the other driver is cooperative, see if they accept fault. Don’t accept fault yourself unless it was blatant (hitting a parked car, etc.), and try to get the name and phone number of any witnesses that support you. You may think you’re at fault, but the law may say otherwise, so let the insurance company and police sort it out. You’ll need to get the following information:
- Driver name, drivers license #, date of birth, address, phone number
- License plate #
- Driver’s insurance company, policy number, and claims dept. phone number
- Date, time, and location of accident
If they don’t have their drivers license on them then call the police. Write down any other details you can think of, but you need this information at a minimum. Just be aware that a lot of people panic when they get into an accident, and some will try to drive off and get away, so getting their license plate quickly is imperative. Being thorough with your description is important as well because the other driver’s recollection of what happened may be completely different the next day.
The insurance company’s adjuster will work with the police to help establish who was at fault in the accident if there is a dispute, so if the two of you can’t agree, let the insurance company figure it out. If you’re not sure what to do then call your local insurance agent and have them walk you through the process.
When do you not need to call the police? If one of you accepts responsibility for the accident, there is minor damage, and both cars are still drivable. The police should be called any other time.
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