One in every eight drivers will be involved in an automobile accident
this year, and with over six million accidents occurring every year,
becoming involved in an accident within your lifetime is almost
guaranteed. Some accidents simply cannot be avoided, so it is important
to know what to do when the inevitable happens.
Immediately after the crash, the primary concern should be the safety
of everyone involved. If the damaged vehicle can be moved to the
shoulder of the road it will be out of the flow of traffic, and allow
the driver a better possibility to exit safely. Since there are both
states in which it is required that vehicles be removed from traffic
after an accident and states in which it is legally prohibited, it is
important to be aware of the law in your area. Whenever possible,
remain in your vehicle until you have both done an initial first aid
evaluation of yourself and your passengers and contacted 911.
Once you have safely exited your vehicle, it is important to be aware
that anything you say at the scene of the crash, whether to crash
participants, witnesses, or emergency response personnel, can affect
the determination of fault, which in turn will affect both your driving
record and the settlement of your claim. Making threats, assigning
blame, or admitting fault can all be used against you by the other
driver's insurance company, so instead, be polite, cooperative, and
concerned. Answer any questions posed by law enforcement as concisely
as possible, and avoid speculation. Get sufficient information from the
driver of the other vehicle or vehicles involved. In order to avoid
being given incorrect information, copy driver's license and insurance
information directly from the other driver's documents, and record the
VIN, make, model, color and license plate number of all vehicles
involved. It will be to your advantage if a claims adjuster is able to
examine the scene before it has been cleared, so contact your insurance
company as soon as possible.
Following these tips for filing an accident report may not make you a
safer driver, but they will help minimize the impact to your wallet and
your driving record that can result from the impact to your automobile.