A car accident can be a scary experience, and it may leave you a little shaken and unsure of what to do next. In any car accident, the first thing you should do is to ensure that no one is injured. Once you’ve made certain of that, there are some rules you’ll need to adhere to in order to make sure the accident is handled properly.
Your Obligations at the Scene
After a car accident, you have one main obligation, and that is not to leave the scene until the proper procedures have been followed. After ascertaining that no one is injured, you and the other driver will need to exchange information. In some cases, you will need to make a police report about the accident. In a situation where that is required, both you and the other driver will be required to make a statement to police and cooperate with any investigation at the scene.
When To Call the Police
The police must be called to the scene of an accident in any situation where one of more of the following applies:
- Anyone has been injured
- There has been any damage to public or private property (other than the vehicles)
- The damage appears to be in excess of $1000
- Any driver involved appears to be in violation of the Criminal Code, such as a driver who appears to be inebriated or using drugs
The police should be called, and all parties should remain at the scene and await their arrival. Under no circumstances should you as a driver leave the scene of an accident until the police have taken a report. Doing so could result in criminal prosecution. It’s important to be honest with the police to the best of your ability in order to ensure that the accident can be reported fairly and accurately. Police may not come to the scene in all cases; if they are not being dispatched you will be given instructions.
When There Are Injuries
If anyone has been injured in the accident, you should call for medical assistance right away. Never try to move anyone who has been hurt in an accident – to do so could actually worsen the injuries. If needed and possible, administer first aid to the best of your ability.
Secure The Scene
If possible, try to move the vehicles out of the way onto a shoulder or into a parking lot. If you can’t move the vehicles, set up flares or reflectors to help other drivers avoid the scene and slow down on approach. Keep passenger out of the way of traffic; it’s best for children to remain inside the car as long as it is safe to do so.
Gathering Information at the Scene
With or without police presence, you should exchange information with the other driver including name, telephone number, license plate number, and driver’s license number. You should ask to see proof of insurance and write down the name of the company, their phone number, and the policy number. If another driver refuses to produce proof of insurance, call the police.
You should also gather information from any witnesses to the accident including passengers and bystanders. The police or the insurance company may wish to contact them for questions regarding how the accident occurred.
If you have a camera handy, you should take pictures of the scene from multiple angles. Include any traffic control signs or signals governing the roadway.
What You Should Not Do At the Scene
In addition to the things you have a responsibility to do at the scene of an accident, there are a few things you should not do. Do not accept responsibility for the accident. Your insurance company will handle that. Do not become involved in arguments with the other driver. When another driver is hostile, remain calm and call the police to control the scene if needed.
After The Accident
Reporting an accident to your insurance company is your obligation as soon as possible after the incident. Your insurance company will handle the process of determining fault and help you to begin the process of getting your claim handled and your car repaired. Your insurance company will also work with the other driver’s insurance company if needed to handle claim payments.
Although an accident can leave you shaken, it’s important to remember these rules and procedures in order ensure a proper claims procedure and that all legal requirements are met. Many insurance companies provide brochures detailing what to do in an accident, and keeping one on hand can help during the chaos of an accident.