According to the National Safety Council (NSA) one in every eight drivers will be involved in a motor vehicle accident each year. Being in an accident can be a shocking and sometimes scary experience. That is why it is important to know beforehand what steps to take if your vehicle is part of a car collision.
Stop your vehicle - If it is clear to do so, stop your vehicle as quickly and safely as possible. If the situation does not allow for you to stop immediately stop as soon as conditions allow.
Move the Vehicle - Move your vehicle off the roadway as quickly as you can. If the vehicle is unable to move, try to make it at least visible to the passing traffic by turning on the hazard lights. Also in some states it is against the law to move a vehicle from where it ended up at the end of a collision. It is wise to know your local laws so you will know if you are able to move the car or not.
Turn ignition off - Make sure all vehicles involved in the accident have turned off their ignitions. Check to make sure there are no visible gas leaks or anything else that could be potentially dangerous to be around as well.
Get out and stay clear of the vehicle - Once the vehicles are moved or stationary with the engines turned off, move away from them. Make sure you and any other drivers or car occupants are out of the way of moving traffic.
Find out about injuries - Check yourself and others to make sure you do not have any injuries. If a person is seriously injured do not move them unless they are in imminent danger.
Call the police and medical services - Call the police or law enforcement branch for the area in which you are located. If there are injuries that need immediate medical attention call for medical services as well. You should also alert the police to any injuries or if the vehicles are blocking the roadway when speaking to them.
Exchange information with other driver - Get the other driver's name, telephone number, address and driver's license number off of their license. Get the name of their insurance company, the insurance policy number and telephone number to contact their insurance company through. Write down the other vehicle's car make, model, year and license plate number. Also write down the name of any passengers that were in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
Get witness statements - If people stopped as witnesses to the accident ask them to write down what they saw along with their name and telephone number. If the witness is not able to stay until the police arrive ask them to sign their statement and leave it with you to give to the police when they arrive at the scene.
Draw a diagram - Take a sheet of paper and make a diagram of the scene. Sketch out where the various car occupants were seated and in which direction and lane the vehicles were traveling. Note such factors as the date, time and weather conditions.
Take Pictures - If you have a camera take pictures of the damaged vehicles. Also take pictures of the intersection or part of the road in which the collision occurred. Take pictures of any skid marks as well. If you received injuries also take pictures of them if possible.
Speak with police - Give the police or responding law enforcement agent your account of what occurred and your personal information. Be ready to show your driver's license and insurance information. The other driver(s) should do the same. Also witnesses should speak with the police to explain what they saw and give their personal information.
Obtain police information - Write down the name and badge number of the responding police and medical emergency personnel. Find out if the law enforcement is the local police, sheriff or highway patrol so you will know where to go to obtain a copy of the police report.
After following these steps you will likely be ready to leave the accident scene. Always cooperate with the police and do not leave until they say it is okay. If your vehicle is drivable you can usually drive away. If the vehicle is too damaged to drive then a tow truck should be called to take the vehicle to your home, repair shop or dealership service department.
Once you are away from the scene it is time to contact your insurance and the other party's (if they were at fault) insurance company. The claim process can begin while you recover from a nerve-wracking experience. Remain in contact with the insurance company until your settlement is negotiated completely.