The immediate aftermath of a car accident can be stressful. Drivers often feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. Even the most level-headed individuals can lose their cool following a car accident. However, it’s essential to take certain steps after an accident to protect the veracity of your insurance claim.
Rear-end accidents are one of the most common types of minor accidents. These generally occur at low speeds, on stopped highways, and at intersections. Most often, the person who rear-ended you will be at fault for an accident.
The first step following any car accident is to assure the safety of your passengers and the people in the other vehicle. Pull your vehicles over to the side of the road and ask the other driver if he or she is okay. Check yourself for any signs of injury like:
If your head made contact with the steering wheel or dashboard, consider getting medical attention, even if you feel fine. Often, it takes hours or even days for symptoms of a soft tissue or head injury to fully manifest.
Check on your own passengers, as well. If anyone needs medical attention, contact emergency responders as soon as possible.
Always file an accident report with the police to protect your insurance claim. Keep in mind, however, that some police departments will only report to the scene of an accident if someone sustains an injury. If your car accident only involves property damage, you may have to visit your local police department and ask to file the report in person.
When a police officer arrives, give him or her all the details surrounding your accident. Be thorough and as detailed as possible, but do not editorialize. Stick to the facts – what you were doing, how the accident occurred, and if you or your passengers sustained any injuries.
Once you make sure everyone is okay, talk to the other driver and ask to exchange insurance information. While a car accident can be inconvenient and frustrating, getting mad at the other driver won’t do any good. Take note of the other driver’s contact information, including name, address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance information.
Don’t ever admit fault for an accident. Even something as simple as an apology could be taken as admitting fault. Keep your interaction brief and restricted to exchanging information.
If anyone else witnessed the accident, ask for his or her contact information. Their account can help determine who is at fault. Get their names and phone numbers so you or your insurance company can contact them later, if necessary.
While waiting for a tow truck or for the police to arrive, get evidence for your own records and to pass on to your insurance company. Take pictures of both vehicles, the damage to both, and skid marks, if applicable. If the accident caused damage to any landmarks, take pictures of this, too.
Lastly, get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible following your accident. Some insurance agents will send roadside assistance and a tow truck, depending on the terms of your policy. Follow their instructions to cover the costs of damage to your vehicle and medical care.
The immediate aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming, but it’s essential to take precautions to protect both your health and your claim. To expedite the process, follow these steps after a rear-end collision.