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What To Do If You Are In An Auto Accident

Sooner or later, you are likely to have an accident. Fortunately, it will probably be a minor collision that damages only the vehicles involved. However, whether you are in a minor or major accident, behaving coolly, calmly, and properly after it occurs could save you a lot of money and trouble.

Some suggestions on what to do if you are in an auto accident:

  1. If possible, move your car to the side of the road or out of the way of traffic.
  2. Turn on your car flashers or set up flares to warn other motorists of the accident.
  3. Do not make any statements concerning who was at fault, or assign blame to anyone involved.
  4. Help any persons who are injured. Most states have laws requiring you to render aid to anyone injured in the accident. Call an ambulance if necessary.
  5. Write down the name, address, license plate number, and driver's license number of the other driver and ask to see his or her vehicle registration certificate and proof of insurance. Write down the insurance company name and policy number of the other driver. If asked, do the same for the other driver. Do not reveal the amount of your insurance coverage.
  6. Write down the names and addresses of all passengers involved and of any witnesses to the accident.
  7. Notify the police, particularly if anyone is hurt or injured at the scene.
  8. Write down the names and badge numbers of any police officers at the scene.
  9. If possible, take a picture of the scene of the accident, including damage to cars and skid marks.
  10. Draw a rough diagram of what happened in the accident, noting road conditions, weather, and lighting.
  11. If you suspect you have any injuries, obtain medical care.
  12. Talk to a lawyer if you intend to file a lawsuit regarding the accident.

All states require those involved in an accident to file a report with the police or bureau of motor vehicles if the accident involves a death, a personal injury, or property damage above a certain amount, such as $500. Some states require that the report be made immediately; others allow five to thirty days. Failure to file a report is a misdemeanor in most states and could result in the suspension of your driver's license.

Some insurance companies provide their policyholders with accident report forms. Such forms make it easier to obtain the necessary information if you are in an accident. If you have them, keep them handy in your vehicle.

Additional topics

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