Top 12 Things to do at an Accident Scene After a Car Crash
Accident victims make the same mistakes over and over again. At accident scenes. Check out this short video on the top 12 things to do at an accident scene after a crash.
Download our “Accident Scene Checklist”
We created a checklist for you to stick in your glovebox in the unfortunate event you are in an accident.
You can download the accident scene checklist here. Do everything on this list to protect yourself from being taken advantaged of.
#1 – Stay Calm
Oftentimes emotions run high after an accident, getting angry at the other party, swearing at them being rude to the police officer. None of this is going to help your case and it’s going to show up in the police report later on. So, whatever you do, stay calm at the scene of an accident.
#2 – Stay Safe
You were just in an accident. You may be in the center lane, watch out for other cars. I’ve seen so many accidents where one accident occurs and then a second accident occurs right afterwards. The first priority you should have is making sure that you and your family are safe.
#3 – Leave the Vehicles Where They Are
If you can, leave the vehicles where they are. That is not always possible. Oftentimes you’re going to have to move your vehicle to the side of the road. But if you can, it would be better if you could leave your vehicles where they are so that the police can come and inspect the property damage.
#4 – Never Admit Fault
Do not admit fault to the other party. This can be difficult because if you did cause an accident, you may be inclined to say, “Hey, I’m sorry about that,” or, “I didn’t see you.”
The problem is that that is an admission against interest and may be used later against you to prove liability. So, try and avoid making a damning statement at an accident scene.
#5 – Only Talk to the Police
Only discuss the facts of the accident with the police when they arrive. You may be inclined to get out of your car and go talk to the other party. That’s a big mistake. You might say something that incriminates yourself, they may say something, and emotions are running high.
The best thing to do is if they want to talk to you about what happened in the accident, just very respectfully say, “I’d like to wait until the police come to talk about what happened in the accident.”
#6 – Get Medical Help Immediately
This is kind of a no-brainer right? If you’re hurt, you’re calling an ambulance. However, I’ve seen so many cases where people just have a sore back and they don’t go to the doctor or they don’t go to the emergency room and it costs them with insurance company later on.
It goes without mentioning that if somebody is really hurt, the obvious choice is to get them medical attention. Everything else on this will take care of itself.
#7 – Always Call the Police
100% of the time. I don’t care how minor the accident is. You may have been involved in an accident and the other party says, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll cover your expenses.” Or, maybe they say “it was my fault.” You exchanged information and everything seemed fine. But when they go and talk to their insurance company afterwards, they tell them a different story.
Always get the police there to inspect the scene of the accident. Look at the physical evidence and make a report.
Sometimes police departments won’t come to the scene of the accident. Maybe the accident occurred on private property or there’s no injury involved. In that case, make sure you call 911 and get what happened on the record – you can order the transcript later.
And then, if you can, drive to a police station and file a report on your own. It’s critical to get a police report on every accident.
#8 – What to do/say/get from the Police
Obviously the police will ask for your side of the story and they’re going to talk to the other party. They’re going to look for witnesses and inspect the property damage and so forth.
The officer may just give you a little card that says your police report number on it. Or, they may provide you an ‘exchange of information’ form. People often think this is the police report itself, it is not. It just has your information and the other party’s information so that you can file an insurance claim.
Also, make sure you get the officer’s name, their contact information, their badge number and the police report number. This is the kind of information that will make it much easier to get the police report much quicker.
#9 – Do NOT agree to NOT Get Insurance Involved or to NOT Call the Police
I’ve had so many calls from people who said that they got in an accident and the other party seemed really nice and cooperative. The victim didn’t call the police and when they try to reach the person after to get their property damage fixed they’ve disappeared.
You need the police to come out to the scene of the accident and you need to get that person’s contact information and their insurance information.
#10 – Exchange Information with the Other Driver
Often people will just take a photograph on their phone of the other driver’s license and insurance card.
But if you don’t take a photo, make sure you get information from the driver, like their name, their phone number, their address, their driver’s license number.
Things like this will help you find them later. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had trouble finding the other driver involved in an accident.
In addition, make sure you get their insurance information. What insurance company do they have? What are the policy dates on their insurance company? What’s the customer service number? What is their insurance policy identification number? These are all things that are going to make it easier for you to find this person later into file a claim and all this information.
There are spaces for all this information on the accident scene checklist that I recommend you download now.
#11 – Collect Evidence
Witnesses are of course important to winning your case. If there are any witnesses, get their name and their phone number or whatever contact information you can get about them. Witnesses are very hard to find after the fact of an accident.
Also, are there any cameras around that you can try to go after to get video tape to show what happened in the accident? I’ve had many cases where video evidence turned the tide on liability decision made by an insurance company.
Also take pictures of course, of your vehicle, your injuries of the skid marks and note in writing the date and time and location of the accident, which direction you were headed and if you can, draw a little diagram of how the accident occurred.
There’s a very good likelihood that your case isn’t going to go to trial or, or you’re not going to be deposed about this accident for 6, 9, 12, or 18 months or more. Anything you can do to document immediately can only help you later.
#12 – File a Claim with Both Insurance Companies
That’s correct – file a claim with your own insurance company as well. It’s a no brainer that you’re going to file with the insurance company for the party who hits you, right? And when you call them up, make sure you get the insurance adjuster name and their contact information and their claim information.
But you should also file with your own insurance company. People are often surprised about that. And they’re always worried that their insurance rates are going to go up.
I can’t make any guarantees about that, but chances are that if you’re not at fault for the accident, your rates won’t be affected. But file with your insurance company.
Most likely when you signed your insurance contract, you contracted that you are contractually obligated to report to them any accident you are involved in.
But there’s another reason as well. If you file with your own insurance company, you can get your property damage handled much quicker than if you wait for the third party insurance company to investigate the accident, accept responsibility, and get your property damage fixed.
Yes, you’ll have to pay for your deductible, but chances are you’re going to get reimbursed for that if you’re not at fault for the accident.
In addition, you may have other insurance benefits like uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or medpay that you can (and may need to) use.
I hope these 12 tips have been valuable to you and God forbid you get in an accident and you need to use one of these things, but in case you do make sure you download this accident scene checklist.
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