Very few people are prepared to face a traffic accident; however, many people will be involved in one at some point during their lives. While some are minor, others are severe and require appropriate action. Even the most careful drivers may experience an accident due to the poor driving skills of others. The best way to be prepared is to know how to respond at the scene. People who know what to do can save lives. In addition to this, preparedness makes the claims process simpler. If an accident happens, take the following steps:
- Stop the car immediately, and check to see if anyone involved is injured. Do not move any injured individuals.
- Call the highway patrol or police immediately. Be sure to tell them how many people are involved, how many people are hurt and what types of injuries have been noted. The police will then notify an emergency response team.
- Find a blanket, sweater or anything available to cover injured people with. It is very important to try to keep them warm.
- Set up flares or other bright objects around the scene of the accident. This is especially important at night, and the objects will help other motorists steer clear of the scene.
- When an involved vehicle is parked in the middle of the road, pull it to the shoulder. If possible, it is important to avoid congesting the road.
- Ask the responding law enforcement officer where to obtain a police report copy. As a rule, it is beneficial to have one before submitting an insurance claim.
- If necessary, call a towing company to pick up the damaged vehicle. Avoid giving permission for repair work. The insurance adjuster will need to see the vehicle and assess it prior to the repair process.
When the accident occurs, it is important to obtain some information from the other drivers and passengers involved in the accident. If they are upset, try to calm them down. Write down the following bits of information:
- Names and addresses of every driver or passenger involved.
- Names and addresses of all witnesses at the scene.
- The make and model of every car involved.
- Insurance identification information for each party.
- License plate numbers of each car involved.
- Drivers license numbers of each individual.
Not all other parties may be willing to cooperate. If they do not have insurance, they may try to offer a settlement at the scene of the accident. They may also prefer not to involve the police or highway patrol. Since there are many things that could go wrong in such a scenario, always notify law enforcement immediately. Be sure to write down the law enforcement officer's badge number and name. If any emergency personnel are involved, write down their names. After an accident, always contact a personal insurance agent.
In some cases, people hit an unattended vehicle. It may be impossible to find the owner or wait for that individual to return. In such a case, the person who hit the vehicle should leave a note with their name, address and phone number. Write down the details of the accident, and call an insurance agent immediately.