21 May Do This! 5 Steps to Follow After an Auto Accident
An accident can leave even the most seasoned driver frazzled and unnerved, but following these steps may help protect you against unnecessary worries and will give your insurance company enough detailed information to begin processing your claim as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Remember that emotions and stress are common at the time of a car collision; try to stay calm and properly assess the situation.
Step #1: Do A Health Check:
- Check yourself, as well as the well-being of your passengers, for injuries. If anyone’s injured, call 911 or ask a bystander to do so. If you’re seriously injured, try not to move, and wait for emergency personnel.
- Get to safety if you’re able to, either on the side of the road or on a sidewalk. If your car is safe to drive and is causing a hazard where it is, pull it to the side of the road. Otherwise, leave it where it is and get yourself to safety.
- Wait for help. Turn off your engine, turn on your hazard lights and use road flares to warn other vehicles to slow down.
Step #2: Notify the Authorities:
- Call the police.Whether an accident is considered a minor fender-bender or a major collision, calling the police is important — and in some states, it’s legally required. If the police file a report, obtain the report number and the reporting officer’s name(s). You can usually obtain a police report within 7-10 days. However, in the case of a hit-and-run or fatality, it could take up to 90 days to receive a full police report.
Step #3: Document the Accident:
- Who’s at Fault? Avoid discussing fault when going over the facts with the other driver. Only speak with the police and your insurance representative about the details of the accident.
- Obtain witness information – Often, there are witnesses to an accident. Some may stick around for the police to take their information, other times they are
- intent on getting where they were going in the first place! Get their full name, telephone number, address and email address.
- Take photos! Our smartphones are an excellent way to document at the scene of an accident! Take photos of all vehicles involved, including license plates and damages. Many insurance carriers are using mobile apps on which you can download images. It is also a good way to document the other party’s license and insurance information – simply snap a photo and you have all the documentation you need to submit to your insurance agent.
Step #4: Exchange Information:
- Once you’ve filed the report with the police officer, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver before you leave. This includes their full name, contact information, insurance company & policy number, driver’s license and license plate number, and the year, make and model of the other party’s vehicle
- Note that the police may separate the parties and not allow an exchange of information while they complete the accident report. This information will be provided on the police report, when it becomes available.
Step #5: Notify Your Insurer and Start the Claims Process:
- It is important to notify your insurance company right away – regardless of who is at fault. Your insurer can set up a claim for you and start the investigation into your accident. If possible, contact your agent from the scene of the accident. If you cannot reach your agent, your insurance card will contain contact information for your insurance carrier’s claim department.
At Kniesel’s Collision, we are always here to help during your auto claim. We have six collision centers conveniently located throughout the greater Sacramento area, each staffed with industry professionals trained to help you during this stressful time. For more information on Kniesel’s Collision, please visit us at www.kniesels.com.