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.
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