Whether a person is involved in a minor or a severe motor vehicle accident, there are important steps that should be followed. Knowing what to do ahead of time will not only reduce the overall stress of the situation, but also assist in ensuring that the interests of all parties are protected.
Remain on the Scene
There are serious ramifications for anyone who leaves the scene of an accident
, even if no one was hurt. It is better to stop and face any consequences than to have a criminal charge on your record. If your car is drivable, it is permissible to pull over onto the shoulder of the road to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Don't forget to put your hazard lights on to warn passerby of the situation.
Call the Proper Authorities
Take a quick look around to determine what aid is needed. When there is an injury, it is best to call 911. Should the accident fall under the fender bender category, it is okay to dial the local police station directly. Any evidence of smoke will also require assistance from the fire department.
Prepare All Documents
The first thing the police will ask for is to view everyone's driver's licenses, registration papers, and insurance cards. While waiting for the law enforcement officers, open the glove box and retrieve these important documents.
Capture Images with a Cell or Camera
Take pictures of the accident scene. This includes a wide shot of the entire site, as well as close-up images of all the vehicles involved in the crash. Fault may not be evident at first and the photo evidence may become an important part of any case that is filed in connection with the motor vehicle accident.
Stick to the Facts
Accurately recount the collision to the officer who is taking the report. Never guess as to the cause of the accident
or whether or not the people in your vehicle were injured if you aren't sure. It is okay to respond with an "I don't know." The police will use the facts and conduct their own investigation to determine who was at fault.
Contact the Insurance Company
As soon as possible, contact the insurance company and inform them of the motor vehicle accident. Give them the same facts that were stated to the police officer. Once the police report becomes available, order a copy and fax it to the insurance company.
Special thanks to Robert Spiegel for the image.