Being involved in a car accident can be quite scary. Although nobody plans on being in an accident, knowing how to handle the situation by following a few simple steps can help make this traumatic experience a little easier. Here are five things you should do after you’ve been in a car accident.
Check for injuries or danger. The most important thing to do after a car accident is to check yourself and passengers for injuries. Ask yourself: Am I hurt? Are my passengers hurt? Is there any damage caused by the crash (smoke, fire, glass, sharp materials, chemicals, etc.) that may pose a threat? Is road traffic a potential safety hazard? Safety is the number one priority.
Call for help. Turn your car off and turn the hazard lights on if possible. If everyone in the car is ok to do so, move everyone away from the car to somewhere more safe, like a sidewalk or shoulder of the road. Be careful of passing traffic while crossing the road. When you call 911, tell the dispatcher your name, that there has been a car accident, whether or not you have passengers, if anyone appears seriously hurt, and as much information about the location of the accident as possible. If you know the address or street names, be sure to tell the dispatcher.
A note about minor crashes: Even if the crash is minor and nobody is hurt, you should call the local police. The officer will ask for your license, registration, insurance, and other information. In turn, request the responding officer's name, badge number, and contact info. Also, ask for a final copy of the police accident report for insurance purposes.
In Massachusetts, you're required by law to file a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report form if any person was hurt, killed, or if the vehicle or property damage total exceeds $1000. A copy of the report must also be sent to the police department having jurisdiction on the way where the crash occurred.
Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the crash. Make sure you get each driver's full name, home address, email address, phone number, driver's license information, insurance company and policy number, and license plate numbers. Taking clear pictures with a cell phone of the driver's license, car registration, and insurance documents can be the quickest and easiest way to gather this information. It’s also important to note the relationship of the driver to the owner of the car (if he or she is not the owner) and the car's make, model, and color. If any witnesses have stopped, gather their name and contact information as well.
Take photos of the damage. If you are able, take pictures of the damage to your car, the other car(s), and any property that was damaged in the accident.
Call your insurance company. As soon as possible, make sure you call your insurance company to let them know what happened. Your agent can help you get the claims process started.
Zammito Insurance is always available to answer your questions regarding home and auto insurance all year long. Give us a call at (781) 762-6732 to find out more.