Keep Safety First
Drivers involved in minor accidents with no serious injuries should move cars to the side of the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. Leaving cars parked in the middle of the road or busy intersection can result in additional accidents and injuries. If a car cannot be moved, drivers and passengers should remain in the cars with seat belts fastened for everyone's safety until help arrives. Make sure to turn on hazard lights and set out cones, flares or warning triangles if possible.
After the accident, exchange the following information: name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver license number and license plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle. If the driver's name is different from the name of the insured, establish what the relationship is and take down the name and address for each individual. Also make a written description of each car, including year, make, model and color — and the exact location of the collision and how it happened.
Photograph and Document the Accident
Use your camera to document the damage to all the vehicles. Keep in mind that you want your photos to show the overall context of the accident so that you can make your case to a claims adjuster. If there were witnesses, try to get their contact information; they may be able to help you if the other drivers dispute your version of what happened.
Call the Police to File an Accident Report
Even if the accident was not serious, or there was minimal damage, call the police to ensure that the accident is thoroughly investigated and that all parties’ interests are protected. If the accident was minor, you and the other drivers may decide to handle the damages yourselves without the involvement of an insurance company or the police. But this is not a good idea, for several reasons:
- While the other driver may agree to pay for the damage to your car on the day of the accident, they may see the repair bills and decide it's too high. At this point, time has passed and your insurance company will have more difficulty piecing together the evidence if you file a claim.
- Also, keep in mind that you have no way of knowing whether another driver will change their mind and report the accident to their insurance company. They may even claim injuries that weren't apparent at the scene of the accident. This means that your insurance company may end up paying a hefty settlement or worse yet, you could be dragged into a lawsuit.
- Additionally, without the assistance of the police you have no way of knowing if the information the other driver is providing you is accurate. You may be getting a false name, false contact information or false insurance information
What to Put on the Report
- Date, time, and location of accident
- Your driver's license, registration, and insurance information
- Other driver's license, registration, and insurance information
- A description of what happened to include your direction of travel, other driver's direction of travel, whether the accident happened at an intersection or mid-block, and location of damage on the vehicles. (Example: "I was going west on Main Street in the right lane through the intersection of Parker Road. The other car came from my right on Parker Road and hit the passenger side front door with its driver's side front end.")
- Name, address, and phone number of any passengers in your car
- Name, address, and phone number of any witnesses