Prepare and Take Care: How To Handle a Road Accident

Arthur C. Kosieradzki - SiebenCarey "Know Your Rights" AttorneyJanuary 05, 2015

Before –
Keep it together after a crash by preparing before an accident occurs. Three easy steps to doing so are:

  • Assembling an accident kit for your car – keep it in your trunk. Include a first aid kit, warning reflectors, a pen and paper for notes, a disposable camera (if your cell phone is not equipped with a camera), warm blankets to fend off cold temperatures if necessary, and medical alert cards for any family member with allergies, epilepsy, diabetes, or any other medical conditions.
  • Order our free 10 Minutes, 10 Hours wallet card here and keep one in your wallet, handbag or glove box.
  • Download and print What to Do When You Are Involved in a Car Crash from the National Safety Council.

Immediately After –
To best ensure the well-being of everyone involved, take the following 10 steps within the first 10 minutes after an accident:

  • Stay calm – assess the health and safety of yourself and your passengers.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or anyone else in your car is injured.
  • Get out of harm’s way – if property damage is minor and you can do so safely, move cars and people out of traffic.
  • Turn hazard lights on to warn other drivers.
  • Exit your vehicle safely and check on the drivers and passengers in other vehicles for injuries. Make sure help is on the way, if necessary.
  • Call police even if the accident is minor and there are no injuries. Don’t leave until they arrive.
  • Be polite, don’t blame others, and don’t admit fault.
  • Take pictures if you have a camera and it’s safe to do so.
  • Exchange information with other drivers: name, address, phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number and insurance company details.
  • Ask witnesses for names, phone numbers and addresses.

Following Up –

  • Within the first 10 hours after an accident, record all necessary details ASAP to protect your interests.
  • Secure vehicle for transport; remove valuables or other personal items.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you were injured, even if you think your injuries are minor.
  • Write notes for your records on everything about the accident, including weather, time, location, statements made, etc.
  • Contact your insurance agent.
  • Revisit the accident scene and take photos. Look for skid marks or anything else that seems important.
  • Photograph your injuries if they are visible.
  • Obtain police reports as soon as they are available.
  • Evaluate damage to your car and get repair estimates.
  • Contact your employer if you cannot work.

Contact your attorney:

  • If you are injured and/or there is extensive property damage.
  • Before providing any information to an adjuster from another driver’s insurance company.
  • If anyone is pressuring you into a quick settlement.
  • Before the time period allowed for filing a claim (called the statute of limitations) expires.

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