No one wants to think about getting into an accident, but the odds are youíll
find yourself involved in one at some point in your driving life.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, in 2002
there were an estimated 6.3 million reported motor vehicle crashes. In the
event of an accident it is important to know how to react to your
Once you have recovered from the initial shock of the accident and have
ensured that you are physically well, get out of the car by whatever means
possible. Be sure to watch out for oncoming traffic. If the accident
leaves your car in water, donít panic. Take a deep breath and escape by
rolling down or breaking a window.
If your car is drivable proceed to a public location where you will be able
to safely report the accident. Some states do not require that you stay at
the scene, while others require you to remain at the accident scene and report
to the police immediately. It is a good idea to move your car, if
possible, if it is in danger of being hit again.
If you have access to a phone, call 911. If you are calling from a
standard phone the dispatcher will know your location automatically. If
you are calling from a cell phone, in most cases youíll need to provide the
dispatcher with your location.
Insurance companies recommend that you take the following steps after an
∑ Obtain names, addresses and
insurance information of the other drivers, and provide yours to them.
∑ Note the number of passengers in
the other car(s) to prevent unscrupulous people from "adding" passengers after
∑ Record as much information as
possible, including the model, make and year of the cars involved. Be sure to
note the time, location and weather conditions at the time of the accident.
∑ Write a brief description of the
accident for future reference.
∑ Talk to witnesses as soon as
possible, especially if you think the other driver is the cause of the wreck. If
possible get their names and phone numbers for the police. The police will
determine who is negligent.
∑ Never admit fault for the
accident at the accident scene. Insurance companies suggest that it is
fine to express concern about what happened, but never admit liability.
∑ When the police
arrive, have your driver's license, registration and insurance card ready. The
officer will ask for information on you and everyone else in the vehicle
including phone numbers. Most officers will ask what happened in the
presence of both drivers so the police officer can note the reaction of one
driver to the story of the other. Ask for a copy of the police report for
your insurance company.
∑ Contact your
insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Most companies
have a 24-hour number for reporting claims.