Auto Accidents happen every day. In fact, according to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), there was an average of one traffic-related fatality every 14 minutes back in 2008 (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811162.PDF). The report also shows that in 2008 there was an estimated 5,811,000 police-reported traffic crashes, in which 37,261 people were killed and 2,346,000 people were injured; 4,146,000 crashes involved property damage only.”
So the likelihood of experiencing at least a fender-bender or some other form of auto accident in your lifetime is pretty high, and when you do find yourself in even the most minor incident, you’ll want to know what to do in such a situation. Here is a few steps that we recommend taking once you are certain you have not experienced any physical injury (in which case you’ll want to immediately call 9-1-1).
- Make sure no-one is in need of any medical attention. If someone is hurt, immediately call 9-1-1 and request an ambulance.
- Make sure you are safe – that nothing is leaking; that you don’t smell gasoline, and that nothing is on fire or beginning to smolder. Then, step as far away from the vehicle(s) as you safely can.
- Call The Police. If no one is injured and nothing is leaking, you’ll still want to call the police immediately. Don’t let the other driver (if applicable) or another person (bystander or passenger) talk you out of calling and reporting the accident, as “leaving the scene of an accident” would not look good on your record. You don’t know who may have watched the incident and reported the accident with your license plate number, and you’ll be so pumped up on adrenaline that you may overlook any property damage you may have unknowingly caused.
- Take Pictures. If you have a camera handy (most likely on a phone), take pictures of everything, including the damage to and the license plates of any other vehicles involved.
- Gather Information. Once an officer arrives, get their name and badge/identification number and ask the officer to secure the insurance information of any other party involved (any other drivers) for you. This is a safety precaution, as the other driver may become irate in such situations. If the officer cannot secure any insurance information for you, ask the other driver for their insurance information while in the presence of the officer. If possible, gather their name and address as well.
- Call your insurance company and report the incident as soon as possible in order to get your claim started if need be.