Being in a car accident is a frightening experience. Adrenaline and stress can cloud judgment, making it difficult to know how to handle ourselves properly when an accident occurs. But saying and doing the right things can make a big difference. Whether you are at fault or the victim, it is important that you follow certain steps to ensure everything goes smoothly.
First, don’t leave the scene. Assess your own condition and the condition of your passengers. It is normal to be stunned and dazed after a collision. If you are on the Interstate, and your car is safely movable and you are in a safe condition to operate it, if you can, slowly make your way to the breakdown lane beside the road and out of traffic as required by state law. If you are on roads other than the Interstate, wait for the police.
Stay with your vehicle once it is out of danger from being hit by other traffic and, if you have not done so already, call 911 for emergency assistance. If the other driver approaches you, and however frustrated you may be, don’t yell or lose your temper with the other driver. If someone asks you if you are alright, respond “I don’t know” as there is no way to know in this situation whether you have internal muscle or ligament injuries.
If you are able, and while you are waiting for the police, Take down details of the other vehicle, such as registration, vehicle identification number, license plate number, make, model, and color and the name and phone number of the driver and his insurance company with its policy number. Assess any obvious damage to either of the cars. If you have a camera or camera phone, it is a good idea to take pictures of the damage. If you don’t have a camera, take clear, concise notes of the damage to the other vehicle. Do not, however, apologize for anything at the scene. Often, chaos can make you say things that, after calm recollection, you realize were not the case and you could back yourself into a corner.
If the accident involves significant property damage or physical injury, you will need to call the police and ask them to come to the scene. Obtain the badge number and name of the officers that arrive at the scene. All accidents should be reported to the police*, even if they do not come to the scene or the area is on “cold reporting”. That way, the accident will be reported and an officer can give further advice, including how to make a “cold report”.
If there are witnesses standing by, take their names and phone numbers; passengers in your car may not be treated as independent witnesses.
Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, even if it wasn’t your fault. You have insurance benefits that you have purchased with a Colorado auto policy and your insurance company needs to know to start those benefits. Always tell the truth about what happened, as accurately as possible, and cooperate with your insurance company fully.
The above tips are just the first steps to take after a road traffic collision occurs. Car insurance claims can take months or even years to settle, so handling things right and having a good record of the accident will help things run smoothly. Contact Sears and Associates for further help or advice, and let us work for you.