What to Do After an Accident
Here are some basic rules to follow immediately after getting into an accident. We hope you never need it, but it might be worth printing this page to keep handy in your glove compartment.
First things first – medical help and safety
- Stay calm.
- Make sure you are safe from any oncoming traffic. Make sure no one is hurt.
- Assess whether or not you need to pull your car out of traffic for your safety or the safety of your passengers.
- If someone is hurt, call for emergency assistance immediately.
- Do not assume that you are fine. Let someone know you are injured or get to a hospital or doctor if you have any doubt at all that you might be hurt.
Document the facts
- If you have a camera or cell phone camera, take pictures of the accident site and damage for your records. Be sensitive to priorities – people first, documentation second.
- File an accident report. That means calling the police, your insurance company, or your local agent.
- Note the date, time and location of the accident.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver. Be sure to include the drivers’ names, phone numbers, license plates, and also descriptions of the vehicles involved.
- Be sure your notes are extensive enough to prove useful later. In an accident involving a complicated intersection or multiple vehicles, it is not uncommon to recreate the scene by using a diagram of which car was where. For example, simply having the license plates noted won’t allow you to recall that it was the “blue SUV” that entered the intersection from the left, or the silver-blue pickup that ran the light at the same time.
- Get the names of witnesses before they leave the scene.
- Get the name and department of the police officer on the scene.
- In the case of a hit and run, jot down whatever information – even partial – that you have. This includes any description of the vehicle and driver involved.
- Most experts recommend discussing the accident with no one except the police or your insurance company. Do not admit fault or assess blame; it’s very human to feel at fault after an accident, even if you are not at fault legally!
Call National General Insurance at 1-800-325-1088 or call your local agent
- Call your agent or insurance company immediately. Police reports take time to file, and speedy claims are expedited by your ability to provide information as quickly and accurately as possible.
- Remember that you may not be thinking clearly. If the police officer is still at the scene, don’t hesitate to put him or her on the phone to your insurance company, in order to better describe the accident that just occurred.