I Got in a Car Accident. Now What?

When you’ve been in a car accident, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve put together a list to help you navigate the aftermath of an accident and make sure your situation gets handled as smoothly and safely as possible.

What to Do Immediately After a Car Accident

Remaining calm and collected right after a car accident is crucial to easing the negative effects that come with it. In addition to keeping your cool, make sure to follow these steps to get the best possible outcome.

 If you’re in traffic and can drive your vehicle, move it out of traffic. If you can't move it, don't try. Turn off your engine. If you or any of your passengers are hurt, can't get out of your car or it's not safe to try, keep your seatbelt fastened and turn on your hazard lights. Communicate with your passengers if possible but do not move them.

Call 911. Call emergency services as soon as possible, especially if you or your passengers are injured. If no one is hurt, it’s still a smart idea to call the police non-emergency number as many areas legally require you to report accidents. Even in minor car accidents you should call the police, as an official accident report and visit from an officer can be very helpful when submitting an insurance claim.

Don't blame anyone for the accident. Even though your emotions might be running high, don’t accept the blame or put it on the other driver. Even if the accident is clearly the other driver’s fault, accepting blame to be polite or courteous could come back to bite you later on. Instead, make sure they and their passengers are OK after checking on everyone in your vehicle.

Exchange information with the other driver. Share your name and insurance company with the other driver and ask that they share the same with you. Make it easy by taking a picture of each other’s driver’s licenses and insurance cards. And if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, call the police if you haven’t already.

Take pictures of the accident. If you can, snap a photo of any other drivers involved, their license plates and any damage done to all vehicles. Take photos of the scene, the roads, traffic signs and the direction each vehicle was traveling. It can be hard to remember these details even a few hours later, and the photos can be useful to both your insurance company and police.

Write down the details. Try and take down as many details as you can as soon as possible after the accident. Stressful events like car accidents can distort your memory, making it very difficult to remember important details later on. The details you might need include:

  • Year, make, model and color of any other cars, as well as any other distinguishing features
  • Driver and passenger names and ages
  • Exact location
  • Your speed
  • Date and time of the incident
  • Weather conditions
  • Time police arrived, their name(s) and their badge number(s)
  • Road conditions
  • Names and contact information of any witnesses

Get a copy of the accident report. Make sure it includes all officers’ names and contact information. This information is especially helpful for your potential insurance claim and can help back up the sequence of events if you end up in court.

Call a tow truck. If your vehicle is unsafe to drive, call a tow truck or professional mechanic to get your car checked out and back home safely. And if you have American Family's Emergency Roadside Service, all it'll take is a quick phone call to get professionals on the scene as soon as possible.

Call your American Family Insurance agent. The sooner your agent is aware of the accident, the sooner they can help you get your car repaired and your life back to normal.

What to Do After You Leave the Scene

Now that you’ve gotten through the toughest part of the incident, you should make sure the process keeps running smoothly by taking these post-accident tips into consideration.

File a claim. File a claim using the MyAmFam app — 24/7, wherever you are. You can also file your claim by logging in to My Account. And depending on the incident, it could take as little as a couple minutes to get it filed and get you back on the road.

Don’t sign anything. Don’t sign paperwork from the other driver’s attorney or insurance company just yet. Your insurance company will handle this for you.

Take care of yourself. Getting in an accident can be scary, and the physical and emotional symptoms can be different for everyone. Before you rush back to work, school or daily life, check in with your body. Get a doctor’s appointment on the books if you’re not feeling like yourself. Even if you don’t think you were injured in the accident, take inventory of how you’re feeling a few days afterward and visit a doctor if anything feels off.

Decide if you need an attorney. Contact one for a quick assessment of your situation. Many lawyers offer free consultations to help you understand if it’s the right choice for you. Consult with several different lawyers before choosing one.

Car accidents can be tough to handle, but your American Family Insurance agent is always there to help you prepare for the unexpected. Get in touch with your agent today and make sure your car insurance policy has you covered in the event of a crash.

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Related Topics: On The Road