When you’ve been in a car accident, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve put together a list to help you navigate the aftermath of an accident, and make sure your situation gets handled as smoothly and safely as possible. Check it out:
What to Do Immediately After a Car Accident
Remaining calm and collected right after a car accident is crucial to easing the negative effects that come with it. In addition to keeping your cool, make sure to follow these steps to get the best possible outcome:
Find a safe spot for your vehicle. If you’re in traffic and you can drive your vehicle, move it out of traffic. If you can’t move it, don’t try. Turn off your engine. If you and or any of your passengers are hurt and and/or can’t get out of your car or it’s not safe to try, keep your seatbelt fastened and turn on your hazard lights. Communicate with your passengers, but do not move them.
Call 911. Call as soon as possible, especially if you or your passengers are injured. And if no one is hurt, it’s still a smart idea to call the police as many areas legally require you to report car accidents. Even in minor accidents, you should call the police, as an official accident report and visit from an officer can be very helpful when submitting an insurance claim.
Don’t accept or place blame for the accident. Even though your emotions might be running high, don’t accept the blame or put it on the other driver. Even if the accident is clearly the other driver’s fault, accepting blame to be polite or courteous could come back to bite you later on. Instead, make sure they and their passengers are OK after checking on everyone in your vehicle.
Take pictures of the accident. If you can, snap a photo of the other driver(s) involved, their license plates and any damage done. Also take photos of the scene, the roads, traffic signs and the direction each vehicle was traveling. It can be hard to remember these details even a few hours later, and the photos can be useful to both your insurance company and police.
Exchange information with the other driver. Share your name and insurance company with the other driver, and ask that they share the same with you. Make it easy by taking a picture of each other’s driver’s licenses and insurance cards. And if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, call the police if you haven’t already.
Take notes on your phone. Try and take down as many details as you can as soon as possible after the accident. Stressful events like car accidents can distort your memory, making it very difficult to remember important details later on. Make note of:
Year, make, model, color of the other car, as well as any other distinguishing features
Driver and passenger names and ages
Date and time
Time police arrived and their name and badge number
The names and contact information of witnesses
Call your American Family Insurance agent. The sooner your agent is aware of the accident, the sooner they can help you get your life back to normal.
Get a copy of the accident report. Make sure it includes the officer’s name and contact information. This information is especially helpful for your potential insurance claim, and can help back up the sequence of events if the accident would lead to court.
Call a tow truck. If your vehicle is unsafe to drive, call a tow truck and/or a professional mechanic to get your car checked out and back home safely. And if you have American Family’s emergency roadside service, all it’ll take is a quick phone call to get professionals on the scene as soon as possible.
What to Do After You Leave the Scene
Now that you’ve gotten through the toughest part of the incident, you should make sure the process keeps running smoothly by taking these post-accident tips into consideration:
File a claim. Use the Report a Claim form to report the accident, or submit a claim right from your MyAmFam app. It’s easy to submit your claim online. And depending on the incident, it could take as little as a couple minutes to get it filed and get you back on the road and about your daily routine.
Put down the pen. Don’t sign paperwork from the other driver’s attorney or insurance company just yet. Your insurance company will handle this for you.
Take care of yourself. Getting in an accident can be scary, and the physical and emotional symptoms can be different for everyone. Before you rush back to work, school or daily life, check in with your body — and get a doctor’s appointment on the books if you’re not feeling like yourself. Even if you don’t think you were injured in the accident, take inventory of how you’re feeling a few days afterward and visit a doctor if anything feels off.
Decide if you need an attorney. Contact one if you believe it’s needed.