You're pulling out of a parking spot or changing lanes and boom!, another vehicle suddenly appears and you are in the middle of a car accident. You may think that it is not serious, but you are not sure what to do. With so much to think about, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Instead, remember to assess the situation, gather the necessary information, and report the accident.
Method 1 of 3: Assess the situation
Step 1. Make a mental note of the license plate, make, model, and color of the other vehicle
There is a chance that the other driver will drive away, especially if he is at fault for the accident. As soon as your car stops moving, look at the back of your vehicle. Make a note of the license plate number and keep repeating it out loud until you can write it down. Do the same with the make, model and color.
- Convert this information into a string that you can memorize and give it a rhythm. For example, you can say "Blue Toyota Corolla 922 RIE."
- Take a photo of the other vehicle with your phone, but only if it is parked and stopped.
Step 2. Make sure no one is hurt
Check yourself first to see if you've hurt yourself. You are unlikely to be seriously injured from a minor accident, but you should always be checked for possible cervical trauma or contusions. Also check your passengers. Ask them if they feel pain or discomfort. Headaches can indicate a concussion, so pay special attention to what passengers say.
Step 3. Call the police as soon as you can
It is important to call the police, especially if repairs will be needed. The police report will allow insurance companies to determine who is responsible for the payment.
Ask the police if you should safely move the car out of the lane, if it will move, and if it is safe to do so. Don't go too far so the other driver doesn't think you want to escape
Step 4. Move the car carefully
Depending on the accident, you may have to move the car to avoid endangering other drivers. For example, if your car is in the middle of the traffic lane, try moving it to the side of the road.
Step 5. Turn on the hazard lights and turn off the engine
The hazard lights will be the first warning sign that other drivers will notice of a possible obstruction. This will make things safer for you and other cars. Make sure to turn off the engine. A damaged and running engine can leak fluids and cause problems.
Step 6. Get out of the car if it is safe to do so
In a minor accident, your car is unlikely to be at risk of catching fire. Do not get out of the car in the direction of traffic, but through the opposite door, if necessary. The police will be able to redirect traffic to another location soon and safely. Be very careful at night. It's better for someone to crash you while you're in the car than you're out of it.
Method 2 of 3: Gather the information
Step 1. Find witnesses
If the accident occurs in the presence of pedestrians, a store, or other drivers, ask them to stay at the scene until the police arrive so they can testify. If possible, get their names and phone numbers.
Step 2. Exchange information with the other driver
After the police officer finishes taking the statements and completing the report, you must obtain the information from the other driver. Make sure that your information is also easily available. People might think that the accident was your fault if you try to hide something. This is the information you should exchange:
- full name, address and contact information
- driver's license numbers
- license plate number
- insurance company and policy number
- make, model and color of the vehicle
Step 3. Document the incident
Write down any information you receive from the police officer and the other driver. Take photos of the scene with your phone. You will need to take photos of the scene itself, including stop signs, traffic lights, and other items that you think may have led to the accident. The insurance company will ask a lot of questions, and you can use these photos for reference. Make sure to take photos of the damage to your vehicle.
Method 3 of 3: Report the accident
Step 1. Report exactly what happened to the police
Be specific and don't overdo it. Provide as much detail as possible, such as the timing of the events, the damage to your vehicle, and the health of the people involved.
- Ask the officer where you can get a copy of the police report.
- If the officer provides you with a reference number for the report, be sure to write it down.
Step 2. Don't admit blame
As much as you think you caused the accident, you should never admit that it was your fault. Insurance companies hire many experts to determine this. However, if you tell people that it was your fault and that is recorded, you may have to take responsibility for the damages.
Be very careful not to admit blame when talking to the other driver or police officer. If you do, it will be recorded in the police report
Step 3. Notify the insurance company about the accident
Some insurance companies require you to report any accident to them, even if it is small and did not cause much damage. This generally involves answering questions related to the road accident.
Step 4. File a claim with your insurance company
This means that you seek compensation through it. The first step will be to contact the company, who will take care of obtaining the police report and speaking with the other driver's company. They may also ask you to visit a mechanic to assess the damage to your vehicle. However, keep in mind that there are certain circumstances in which you may not want to file a claim, such as:
- This is a car accident where you are the only one who has suffered minor injuries.
- You can pay for the damage to your vehicle, or the repairs are largely covered by the policy excess.
- The damages are minor or nonexistent in either of the two cars.
- These instructions describe how to cover all bases in the United States, but the course of action may vary depending on your location.
- If the accident wasn't your fault and your car is damaged, the other driver might want to convince you not to call the police or file a claim. While it is common for the parties to resolve the situation without resorting to the police or the insurance company, there are no guarantees. If the other person offers to pay for the damages with their money, they could easily claim that the accident never happened or that it was your fault. Without a police report, you may not receive any compensation.
- If neither of you wants insurance premiums to go up, avoid filing a claim, but never skip the police report.
- Have traffic cones or flares in your vehicle to warn other drivers in the event that you cannot move your car.
- Assess the situation after the accident to avoid the risk of another vehicle hitting you while looking at the scene.
- Some drivers can be aggressive or offensive in the event of an accident. If the other driver begins to be aggressive and you fear that he will become violent, return to your vehicle and lock the doors.