Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be difficult to deal with, but you should stay as calm as you can, especially if there are injuries involved. Quickly prioritize the situation, first being sure that you or someone has called 911 to ensure help is coming for anyone who needs medical attention. Next, steps should be taken to protect your interests. Learn how with this guide on things to do if you are involved with a motor vehicle accident.
Ten Minutes to Ten Hours Later
Be prepared before a motor vehicle accident occurs. You can do this by first putting together an accident kit for your vehicle, and leave it in your trunk. This kit should include basic medical supplies, such as a first aid kit, a pen and small notebook, and medical alert cards for your family noting any allergies or other medical conditions that may be needed by emergency personnel or hospital workers. Download our free 10 Minutes, 10 Hours car motor vehicle accident guide here, and place copies in your smartphone, wallet, purse or glove box.
First 10 Minutes
- Stay calm – Assess the health and safety of your passengers before you do anything else.
- Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or anyone else in your car is injured.
- Get out of harm’s way – If property damage is minor and you can do so safely, move cars and people out of traffic.
- Turn hazard lights on to warn other drivers.
- Exit your vehicle safely and check on the drivers and passengers in other vehicles for injuries. Make sure help is on the way, if necessary.
- Call police even if the accident is minor and there are no injuries. Don’t leave until they arrive.
- Be polite, don’t blame others and don’t admit fault.
- Take pictures with your cell phone camera if it’s safe to do so.
- Exchange basic information with other drivers: name, address, phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number and insurance company details. But DON’T discuss blame or any other specific details about the accident.
- Ask witnesses for names, phone numbers and addresses.
First 10 Hours
- Secure vehicle for transport; remove valuables or other personal items.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you were injured, even if you think your injuries are minor.
- Write notes for your records on everything about the accident, including weather, time, location, statements made, etc.
- Contact your insurance agent.
- Revisit the accident scene and take photos. Look for skid marks or anything else that seems important.
- Photograph your injuries if they are visible.
- Obtain police reports as soon as they are available.
- Evaluate damage to your car and get repair estimates.
- Contact your employer if you cannot work.
- Contact your attorney …
- If you are injured and/or there is extensive property damage;
- Before providing any information to an adjuster from another driver’s insurance company;
- If anyone is pressuring you into a quick settlement; and,
- Before the time period allowed for filing a claim (called the statute of limitations) expires