Stay at the scene of the Accident
If you are able to, pull your car to the side of the road in order to allow traffic to pass. If your vehicle is inoperable, put on your flashers, and consider lighting flares behind your vehicle to alert other drivers of your vehicle.
Check on all involved parties
Quickly verify that all people in your vehicle are not seriously injured (i.e. broken bones, open wounds, etc.). If so, call 911 immediately and keep the injured person in their seat. If you can smell fuel, or can see open flames, carefully remove everyone from the vehicle as quickly as possible. Then, check with any other involved parties for the same.
Call the Police
Call the local police or 911 for an officer to respond. If there are no serious injuries, you may be instructed to just exchange information; however, police reports can be valuable in accidents involving liability disputes and uncooperative parties. (Do not be alarmed if you are told that no officer will respond, but still make the attempt).
Make sure to exchange information with the other parties involved – even if you believe you are not at fault. C.V.C. Sec. 16025. If you do not have anything to write with, snap photos of their driver’s license, registration card and proof of insurance. This is an essential step in preparing your accident claim.
Gather Statements from Witnesses
One of the most over-looked elements when gathering information form the scene of the accident is speaking with witnesses. Should an accident occur, and there is no police report, it can turn into a “he-said-she-said” affair. Attempt to get a quick statement from a witness, and if favorable, exchange contact information should it be needed later.
Nearly everyone has a smartphone with a high-resolution camera on it. Definitely put it to work:
- Property Damage: take pictures of all vehicles involved, and any other damage caused (i.e. hit trees, walls, street signs, bicycles, etc).
- Other driver’s info: snap a picture of the other party’s contact info for easy collection.
- Location: street signs, intersections, landmarks.
- Injuries: cuts, abrasions, bruises or other visible injuries.
Seek Medical Treatment
Should you feel any physical pain or discomfort, seek medical treatment as soon as convenient. Also, keep track of treatment and what medical facilities you visit.
Open Claim with Your Insurance Company
After seeking medical treatment, call your own insurance company and open a claim. Openly and truthfully discuss how the accident occurred, your injuries and the location of your damaged vehicle. Share the information you gathered from the scene of the accident, and record all contact information given by the insurance adjuster.
Delay Contact with Any Other Insurance Company
Do not talk to anyone else regarding the accident (other than doctors, your insurance carrier and close family and friends). If another insurance company contacts you, politely decline to speak with them at that time regarding details, but give them the contact info for your insurance company and the claim number. Never give a recorded statement without the presence of your own attorney.
Consider Hiring an Attorney
Personal injury attorneys can help organize the claim properly, coordinate all contact with insurance companies for you, and even help maximize any potential recovery. Usually, injury attorneys work on a contingency fee, meaning that no fee is paid until a recovery is made. Consultations are also usually free.