6 Steps to Take After a Car Accident
By: Eric Rosenberg
Car accidents happen—and sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. These accidents are far more common than you might think. Data from the last U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey in 2018 showed there were over 6.7 million car crashes in the U.S. that year. Of those accidents, nearly 1.9 million resulted in injuries and over 4.8 million of these accidents involved property damage.
But while getting into an accident can shake you up, there are important steps to take after one occurs. These measures can help ensure everyone is safe, that the law is being followed and that the car accident claim process is as streamlined as possible.
Step 1: Stay Calm and Check for Injuries
Depending on the severity of your accident, you may walk away without a scratch or you could need medical attention. As soon as you can, take a deep breath and check for potential injuries. Check on anyone in the car with you. If you aren't hurt, but it appears someone else involved is, see if they need help and call 911. Don't attempt to move a person without medical professionals on the scene.
Step 2: Get to Safety
Again, this depends on where the accident occurred. If your car is blocking traffic or in a dangerous intersection, see if you can move it out of the way. Try to park it on the shoulder of the street, a driveway or parking lot.
If you can't safely move the car, leave it and put your hazard lights on to alert other drivers.
Step 3: Call the Police
If no one is hurt, you might think you don't have to get 911 on the phone. However, in many states, calling the police is the law, even for a minor fender bender.
The responding police officer will file an accident report. Sometimes, the police might be too busy to assist with a minor accident and ask you to go to the station to report the accident. The accident report is important because your insurance company will ask for it when you file your claim.
Step 4: Exchange Information With the Other Driver
If another driver is involved in your accident, you'll want to get their information. This includes:
- Their name and contact information
- Their insurance company and policy number
- The make and model of their car
- Their driver's license and license plate information
Though you may want to, avoid discussing the accident's details with the other person. Before you know who is at fault for the accident, any conversation you have, even if it's minor, could be used by either side to blame the accident on the other. So, it's best to stick to the facts as you know them and only speak through the proper channels, such as your insurance company and the police.
Step 5: Review the Scene and the Accident
Before you forget anything, write down or record your account of the accident. You can use your phone to take any images or videos and notes that you might need later.
Here's some of the information you'll want to remember:
- The time and date of the accident
- The weather (was it sunny, dark, cold, etc.)
- The road condition (was it covered in ice or snow, potholes, etc.)
- The name of the road you were traveling on and the direction
And some of the photos or videos you should take:
- Images of your car, including close-ups of any damage
- Images of any other vehicles involved, including damage
- Images of the scene and the direction you were traveling
- Images of any property damage at the scene
Make sure you get the name and contact information of anyone you speak to who witnessed the accident. If you talk to an officer on the scene, get their name and badge information, and ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.
Your account will be part of the car accident claim process, so it's important to remember as much as you can to provide to your insurance company.
Step 6: File Your Claim
Once you have all that information, it's time to file your claim and notify your insurance company. If you are still at the scene and feeling okay, you can call Westfield and get the claim process started right away!. They can help describe the claims process, let you know the info they'll need and get everything moving forward to the next stage.
- Give us a call, we’re available 24/7: 800.243.0210 option 3
- Roadside assistance – option 1
- Glass only claims – option 2, selection 1
- All other claims – option 2, selection 2
Following these six steps can help ensure that you're not only safe but expediting the car accident claim process. The more information you can provide to your insurance company after an accident, the better.