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You’ve Just Had a Car Accident | Now What?


Many of us have been driving for a long, long time. But, it never hurts to review this checklist.  Times have changed.  There are more drivers on the road than ever before.  Take these steps to ensure a favorable outcome in a stressful situation:

1. Check for injuries

Before you do anything else, make sure you’re okay and your passengers are, too.

2. Move Your Car

Move your car out of the way if you are able.  If you can’t move your car, you should use your hazard lights to alert other drivers.

3. Contact law enforcement

You can help the 911 dispatcher by giving as much detail as possible. Be prepared to tell him or her your exact location, including the highway mile marker or closest intersection. Let the dispatcher know about potential injuries, the number of cars involved and whether cars can get by on the roadway.

4. Exchange information with the drivers involved

Drivers involved should provide each other with their:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Insurance company name
  • Insurance policy number
  • Name of the insured person and relationship to the driver
  • Driver’s license state and number
  • License plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle
  • Car year, make, model and color

Resist the urge to apologize for the accident even if you think it might be your fault, or to keep it between you and the other parties. Law enforcement officers will determine the degree to which each driver may have contributed to the collision.

5. Record what happens

While you’re on site, write down the location of the accident and how it happened. Take pictures of the damage done to all of the vehicles involved. Ask any witnesses for their contact information in case the drivers disagree about the events.

6. Place an accident report

Even if law enforcement officers don’t respond to the accident, which sometimes happens if there are no injuries, download an accident report form from Pennsylvania’s Department of Motor Vehicles website, fill it out and submit it.

7. Notify your insurance provider

Rather than relying upon the goodwill of the other drivers to ensure that damages are paid for, submit an insurance claim. Doing so can help you protect your finances in the long term and get your car fixed more quickly in the short term.

How to be prepared for an accident

Keep important items in your car’s glove box such as paper and a pencil for taking notes, a card that lists local law enforcement agency contact numbers and your medical allergies or conditions that first responders should know about.

Of course, these days, you may choose to keep much of this information in your cell phone under a file or note called “ICE,” which tells first responders where to look “In Case of Emergency.” You may also want to list several of your contacts, such as your spouse, parents or adult children under “ICE” in your phone’s contacts list.


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