Motor vehicle accidents are usually unexpected and definitely stressful, ( learn more at ) so it is good to be prepared and know what to do if it happens to you. One thing to remember, if you are in an accident, it is important to remain calm and as in control as possible. Acting irrationally or reacting in anger can only make matters worse.
Take a moment to review the following steps to help guide you through the actions to take when in a motor vehicle accident.
1) CHECK FOR INJURIES
First and foremost always assess if you are injured or if there are injuries to any other drivers, passengers or pedestrians. If so, immediately call 9-1-1 for ambulance assistance.
2) PULL OVER AND CLEAR ROADWAY
If there are no major injuries and you can safely move your car off to the side of the road and get your hazard lights on, then it’s best to do so. This helps keep you safe and out of the way of oncoming traffic while you exchange information with the other driver(s) and wait for police and/or ambulance to arrive. If you are concerned about the safety of driving the car, then leave it where it is.
3) CALL POLICE
Calling the police depends on the situation, for example injury vs non-injury accidents and the jurisdiction. Definitely call the police if there’s an injury. If not, just know that some police authorities will not investigate nor write reports on non-injury accidents. However, if you have an uncooperative driver (i.e. will not exchange information) or other disturbance which warrants police response, or if unsure whether or not to call the police, call them anyway to help determine if it’s necessary to file a police report. It’s also a good idea to note the investigating officer’s name and badge number in case your insurance agent or attorney needs to contact the officer.
4) EXCHANGE DRIVER INFORMATION
Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of all the other drivers involved in the traffic accident. Write down the make, model, year and license plate number of each vehicle. Be sure to obtain all insurance information including the company, policy number and any insurance agent contact information the driver can provide.
5) TAKE PHOTOS
Now most of us have smartphones equipped with a camera so snap some photos of the scene of the accident, damage to your car and/or other vehicles involved in the accident, it can be very useful. Having documentation of the damage — i.e. license plates, driver’s license, proof of registration, proof of insurance, proximity/position of cars involved, and other evidence such as skid marks along the road –helps when submitting an accident claim to your insurance company.
6) GATHER WITNESS(ES)
If there are any witnesses to the accident, be sure to get their names and contact information and have them write a description of what happened. Also make sure they agree to let your attorney or insurance agent to contact and question them.
7) STAY PUT
Stay with your vehicle until the police have arrived and filed any necessary reports and all information with other drivers has been exchanged. Leaving the scene of an accident could result in criminal charges or misrepresentation of the accident.
Shortly following the accident:
8) FILE A DMV ACCIDENT REPORT
The laws for reporting accidents to the DMV vary from state to state. In general for Nevada, anyone involved in a car accident involving personal injuries, death, or property damages exceeding around $750, must file a car accident report to the DMV.
9) FILE CLAIM WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
The most important thing to remember about filing an insurance claim is to report your accident as soon as possible. Also provide insurance company with information on the other driver. This will speed up the process of getting your car repaired and securing a rental vehicle, if necessary.
10) CONTACT A LAWYER
Depending on the extent of the damage and/or injury, it may be a good idea to contact a lawyer. Motor vehicle accidents can be complex, involve multiple parties, personal injuries, product defects (such as airbags, etc.) and other issues that may not be obvious.
11) DOCUMENT MEDICAL TREATMENT
If medical attention was required for injuries, be sure to keep records of all hospital visits, tests, prescriptions or other expenses that arise as a result of your accident. This information will be needed by your insurance company and attorney.
Just a friendly reminder to be safe on the road, always buckle up, don’t drink and drive, avoid distracted driving, and maintain the speed limit.
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