Car Accident Checklist

Are you prepared?

What to do when involved in a car accident

If you or someone you know is involved in a car accident, there are certain things you should do immediately after the accident to ensure that you are prepared for any future claims you may bring or those that may be made against you.

-Being Prepared Before a Car Accident:

  • Maintain Full Tort insurance coverage, the cost is nominal.
  • Make sure you have enough liability insurance coverage. A basic rule of thumb is to determine your net worth and maintain two times that in liability coverage.
  • Make sure your under-insured and un-insured motorist coverage is equal to your liability coverage limits.
  • Keep an Emergency Kit in your car containing the following:
    • Drivers should carry a cell phone.
    • A pen and paper for taking notes.
    • A camera to take pictures (or a cell phone with a camera feature).
    • A card with information about medical allergies or conditions that may require special attention if there are serious injuries.
    • Basic First Aid supplies – hand cleansing wipes, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, etc. – for minor injuries.
    • A set of cones, warning triangles, emergency flares should be kept in the trunk.
    • Things to Do Immediately After a Car Accident:
    • Stay calm, take a breath – accidents can be very stressful and upsetting, but the calmer you are the smoother things will go.
  • Check to make sure everyone is safe. If someone is seriously injured, call 911 and wait for the police and medical help. Listen to your own body – if you feel injured, seek appropriate medical treatment.
  • Call the police, even if the accident is minor.
  • If it is a minor accident, drivers should move the vehicles from the middle of the road to avoid further accidents. Warn oncoming traffic of the accident by using cones, warning triangles, flares, and/or hazard lights.
  • Write down the following information so that as time passes and memories fade, you will have all the details you need about the accident.
  • The other driver’s name, driver’s license number, contact information (at least home address and phone number) and insurance company name, address and policy number.
  • Description of the other vehicle and the license plate number.
  • Did the other driver appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs? If so, write down what you observed, such as slurred speech, and anything that other people witnessed. Witnesses are important because after any substance wears off, it will be your word against the driver’s.
  • Names and contact information for all passengers, all pedestrians, and all witnesses – for example, the store owner across the street who witnessed the accident.
  • Any statements you hear about the accident – For example, did anyone say “I’m not hurt” or did anyone take responsibility for the accident by saying “I wasn’t looking either,” “I was distracted,” “I wasn’t wearing my glasses,” “I spilled my coffee,” etc.
  • Location, date, and time of the accident
  • Detailed description of the accident, including which direction the vehicles were going before the accident, the weather and related conditions (fog, rain, night, ice, etc.), what happened, any injuries, what was damaged, and what the police did, especially if they issued tickets or gave a sobriety test. Drawing a diagram can be helpful.
  • Any problems with vehicles not caused by the accident, such as bald tires or a burned out headlight.
  • Contact information for the police officers at the scene.
  • Take pictures of any injuries, including your own, the accident scene, damage to vehicles or other property, including guard rails, light poles, etc., as well as the people involved and any lettering on the vehicles, such as commercial information and license plates, using a camera, cell phone, etc.
  • Go to the emergency room to get evaluated; you may not feel terrible immediately after the accident, but you more than likely will the next day. Follow-up with your treating physician and document your injuries.
  • Contact us to make sure your interests are protected and rights preserved.
  • Get a copy of the police report. If the car accident is minor and police officers do not respond, drivers should file a state vehicle accident report within 5 days of the accident. This is available at police stations or at various Department of Motor Vehicles locations or the DMV website.
  • Contact your insurance company to submit a claim.
  • Do NOT sign any document, unless it is for the police and you have read it and agree with it.
  • Be polite, but do NOT admit fault! Anything you say at that time can be used against you in a lawsuit. Immediately following the accident is not the time to discuss liability.
  • Do NOT talk to the insurance company. Insurance companies routinely call car accident injury victims repeatedly after an accident to either gain information to resolve the case quickly or for less than what it is worth. Once you settle with an insurance company, you can never seek additional compensation, even if your injuries worsen.

-Things NOT to Do After a Car Accident:

  • Do NOT sign any document, unless it is for the police and you have read it and agree with it.
  • Be polite, but do NOT admit fault! Anything you say at that time can be used against you in a lawsuit. Immediately following the accident is not the time to discuss liability.
  • Do NOT talk to the insurance company. Insurance companies routinely call car accident injury victims repeatedly after an accident to either gain information to resolve the case quickly or for less than what it is worth. Once you settle with an insurance company, you can never seek additional compensation, even if your injuries worsen.
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