So You’ve Had An Automobile Accident – What Next?

Q. What should I do at the scene of an accident?

A. Immediately stop at the scene.

• Call 911 if there are injuries.
• Call the police. In some areas police authorities may not come to every accident scene. They may consider factors such as the severity and location of the accident (e.g., some police authorities will not come to the scene if the accident is on private property). However, you should attempt to notify the police. You should also be aware that most policies require notification of police within a specified time period if the accident is a hit and run. Obtain names, addresses, telephone numbers, and driver’s license numbers from all drivers.
• Obtain license plate(s) and vehicle identification numbers. Ask to see driver’s license(s) and vehicle registration(s) to verify that the information is accurate.
• Obtain names, addresses, and telephone numbers of other passengers and any witnesses.
• If you have a camera, take photographs of the damage, the position of the cars, and the accident scene (e.g., traffic controls, visual obstacles).
• If the owner of a damaged car or damaged property cannot be located, leave a note with the names and addresses of the driver and owners of the involved cars.
• Notify your agent and/or your insurance company immediately.
• If anyone is injured or the vehicle damage exceeds $750.00, you must report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. Failure to notify the DMV may result in the suspension of your driver’s license.

DO NOT…

• argue with other drivers and passengers. Save your story for the police and your insurance company.
• sign statements regarding fault or promises to pay for damage.
• If another party offers to pay your deductible, don’t sign anything releasing him or her from further responsibility. By releasing the other party, you jeopardize your insurance company’s subrogation right, and the company may refuse to pay for damage to your car.

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