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At the Scene of an Accident

A couple smiling and reviewing a piece of paper

Car accidents are incredibly common. In 2016, there were approximately 17,250 car accidents a day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Knowing what to do if you are involved in an accident can save lives and also make the claims process more manageable.

  1. Stop your car and find out if anyone is injured.
  2. Call 9-1-1 or the local non-emergency number if it is clear no one is injured. Tell them how many people were hurt and the types of injuries. The police will notify the nearest medical unit.
  3. Cover injured people with a blanket to keep them warm. If additional first-aid treatment is necessary and you can provide it, you may do so. 
  4. Try to protect the accident scene. Take reasonable steps to protect your car from further damage, such as setting up flares, getting the car off the road, and calling a tow truck.
  5. Ask the investigating officer where you can obtain a copy of the police report. You will probably need it when you submit your claim to your insurance company.
  6. If necessary, have the car towed to a repair shop. But remember, your insurance company probably will want to have an adjuster inspect it and appraise the damage before you order repair work done.
  7. If you run into an unattended vehicle or object, try to find the owner. If you can't, leave a note containing your name and contact information. Record the details of the accident.
  8. Take notes, either on paper or in a notes app on your smartphone. Write down all the pertinent information you can think of including: 
  • The names and contact information of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident
  • License plate numbers
  • The make and model of each car
  • Driver's license numbers
  • Insurance information
  • The names and contact information of witnesses
  • The names and badge numbers of police officers or other emergency personnel

Accidents can be scary, even if they are minor. If you do not feel comfortable driving your car home after an accident, call a friend or family member to help you out. Safety first and always.