ACE feels it is important for drivers to know exactly what to do
after a car accident. To help, we researched and found the
top 6 things to do. Each year, thousands of people are
involved in traffic accidents. If you are one of these unfortunate
people, will you know what to do in the aftermath of a
collision? How you react can prevent further injuries, reduce
costs and accelerate the clean-up and repair process.
"These tips can make a big difference in
everything from protecting yourself and your passengers to ensuring
that you won't be without a car while yours is in the shop," said
Dr. Ray Bruce, president of the association. Almost one-third
of accidents result in injury. So, if you are involved in a
traffic collision, try to remain calm, and follow these steps:
Action Plan to Deal with Accidents.
1. Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Glove
Compartment. Drivers should carry a cell phone, as well as pen and
paper for taking notes, a disposable camera to take photos of the
vehicles at the scene, and a card with information about medical
allergies or conditions that may require special attention if there
are serious injuries. Also, keep a list of contact numbers for law
enforcement agencies handy.
2. Keep Safety First. Drivers involved in minor
accidents with no serious injuries should move cars to the side of
the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. Leaving cars
parked in the middle of the road or busy intersection can result in
additional accidents and injuries. If a car cannot be moved,
drivers and passengers should remain in the cars with seatbelts
fastened for everyone's safety until help arrives. Make sure to
turn on hazard lights and set out cones, flares or warning
triangles if possible.
3. Exchange Information. After the accident,
exchange the following information: name, address, phone number,
insurance company, policy number, driver license number and license
plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle. If the
driver's name is different from the name of the insured, establish
what the relationship is and take down the name and address for
each individual. Also make a written description of each car,
including year, make, model and color - and the exact location of
the collision and how it happened. Finally, be polite but don't
tell the other drivers or the police that the accident was your
fault, even if you think it was.
4. Photograph and Document the Accident. Use
your camera to document the damage to all the vehicles. Keep in
mind that you want your photos to show the overall context of the
accident so that you can make your case to a claims adjuster. If
there were witnesses, try to get their contact information; they
may be able to help you if the other drivers dispute your version
of what happened.
5. File An Accident Report. Although law
enforcement officers in many locations may not respond to accidents
unless there are injuries, drivers should file a state vehicle
accident report, which is available at police stations and often on
the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site as a downloadable file. A
police report often helps insurance companies speed up the claims
6. Know What Your Insurance Covers. The whole
insurance process will be easier following your accident if you
know the details of your coverage. For example, don't wait until
after an accident to find out that your policy doesn't
automatically cover costs for towing or a replacement rental car.
Generally, for only a dollar or two extra each month, you can add
coverage for rental car reimbursement, which provides a rental car
for little or no money while your car is in the repair shop or if
it is stolen. Check your policy for specifics.
The final question in dealing with an accident
is usually who will pay for the damages? If the accident was minor,
you and the other drivers may decide to handle the damages
yourselves without the involvement of an insurance company. But
this isn't always the best idea, for several reasons.
While the other driver may agree to pay for the
damage to your car on the day of the accident, he may see the
repair bills and decide it's too high. At this point, time has
passed and your insurance company will have more difficulty piecing
together the evidence if you file a claim.
Also, keep in mind that you have no way of
knowing whether another driver will change his mind and report the
accident to his insurance company. He may even claim injuries that
weren't apparent at the scene of the accident. This means that your
insurance company may end up paying him a hefty settlement, or
worse yet, you could be dragged into a lawsuit. So make sure that
your company has your version of what happened and check your
policy - if the damages paid out by your insurance company are
below a certain amount, the accident may not be considered
chargeable. And you will avoid the penalty of a premium hike.
Auto accidents take a tremendous toll on
everyone involved, both financially and emotionally. If you're one
of the lucky ones who have thus far avoided a serious accident,
hopefully the tips on prevention will help keep it that way. The
chances are high, though, that at some point you will be involved
in a minor accident. Just keep your head and make safety your
primary concern. You'll have plenty of time to deal with the