Here are some basic rules to follow immediately after getting into an accident.
First of all make sure everyone is OK– medical help and safety.
• Stay calm.
• Make sure you are safe from any oncoming traffic. Make sure no one is hurt.
• Assess whether or not you need to pull your car out of traffic for your safety or the safety of your passengers.
• If someone is hurt, call for emergency assistance immediately.
• Do not assume that you are fine. Let someone know you are injured or get to a hospital or doctor if you have any doubt at all that you might be hurt.
• If you have a camera or cell phone camera, take pictures of the accident site and damage for your records. Be sensitive to priorities – people first, documentation second.
• File an accident report. That means calling the police, your insurance company, or your local agent.
• Note the date, time and location of the accident.
• Exchange insurance information with the other driver. Be sure to include the drivers’ names, phone numbers, license plates, and also descriptions of the vehicles involved.
• Be sure your notes are extensive enough to prove useful later. In an accident involving a complicated intersection or multiple vehicles, it is not uncommon to recreate the scene by using a diagram of which car was where. For example, simply having the license plates noted won’t allow you to recall that it was the “blue SUV” that entered the intersection from the left, or the silver-blue pickup that ran the light at the same time.
• Get the names of witnesses before they leave the scene.
• Get the name and department of the police officer on the scene.
• In the case of a hit and run, jot down whatever information – even partial – that you have. This includes any description of the vehicle and driver involved.
• Most experts recommend discussing the accident with no one except the police or your insurance company. Do not admit fault or assess blame; it’s very human to feel at fault after an accident, even if you are not at fault legally!