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When you get into a car accident, there are certain steps you may want to take in order to help make sure everyone is safe, to follow the law and to get the insurance claim process started.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the following steps may help guide you through important decisions you need to make if you've been in a car accident, whether you were at fault for the accident or not.
“I just had an accident. Now what do I do...?”
If you're injured, call 911 or ask someone else to do so. If you're seriously injured, try not to move, and wait for emergency personnel.
If you're not too hurt to move, check on the other passengers in your car. If anyone's injured, get on the phone with emergency services or ask a bystander to call for help.
If you're able to, move to the side of the road or a sidewalk. If your car is safe to drive and is causing a hazard where it is, pull it to the side of the road. Otherwise, leave it where it is and get yourself to safety.
Whether an accident is considered a minor fender-bender or a major collision, calling the police is important — and in some states, it's legally required. The responding officers will fill out an accident report and document the scene. If the police can't come to the scene of the accident, you can go to the nearest police station and complete a report yourself, according to the III. When you file a claim with your insurer, they may ask for a copy of the police report to help with the claims process.
Turn off your engine, turn on your hazard lights and use the road flares in your emergency car kit to warn other vehicles to slow down.
After making sure you and any passengers are uninjured, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. According to the III, here's the most important information drivers should exchange after an accident:
The III recommends that you avoid discussing fault when going over the facts with the other driver. When you file an insurance claim, the adjuster reviewing your claim will determine who's at fault based on an inspection of the vehicles/property damaged, information provided by you and the other parties involved in the accident, and any supporting documentation, like the police report or photographs from the scene.
In order to help protect yourself, the III recommends taking the following steps:
To help keep all of this documentation in order, you can keep this accident information page in your vehicle.
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