Car Accident? Here Are Your Next Steps!
Be Prepared in Case of an Automobile Accident
To prepare for the possibility of a car accident it would be wise to carry certain items in your vehicle including this helpful Orange County Car Accident Checklist. You will, of course, need your vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and contact information for your insurance company. You may want to carry emergency flares or a set of cones in your vehicle to alert other motorists of the accident. Make sure you have a camera ready to record the accident — and in most cases your cell phone will be adequate for capturing images. Have paper and pen or a means available to take notes of any unusual or relevant circumstances of the accident.
Steps to Take After an Accident
The first thing to do after an accident is to check and see if anyone involved in the car accident was injured, including yourself. Call 911 if there is any possibility that anyone involved may need immediate medical attention. Many injuries are not visible, symptoms can be delayed, and it is always better to be safe when dealing with the health of auto accident victims.
Next, move yourself and any passengers to a safe location. You can move your vehicle off the road if the vehicle damage is minor and the accident is straightforward, but you may want to leave it as is, even if it is blocking traffic, if there were injuries sustained or the cause of the accident is disputed. If the accident is impeding traffic, you should set up flares or cones to alert approaching vehicles. In any event, and before you move your vehicle, be sure to record the accident with photos that clearly show the damage and the scenario. Make absolutely certain that you are taking the pictures from a safe location.
Call the police to get a report on file, even if the damage is minor. Call your insurance company for advice on documenting the scene and exchanging insurance information. It may also be advisable to call a car accident attorney for assistance. Then exchange information with the other driver and document the accident. Do not discuss fault, sign any statements, or promise any payments. Drivers would typically exchange the following information:
- License plate numbers
- Full names and contact information of drivers
- Insurance company information
- Make, model, color, and year of vehicles
- Full names and contact information of witnesses
Record all the details of the accident, with photos or notes, including the exact location, the other driver’s license information, the weather conditions, and the license plate numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Write down the vehicle identification (VIN) number located on the engine or the door jamb of your vehicle. Call for roadside assistance if your vehicle is inoperable, and make sure that you stay within the time limits for filing your claim.