Yes, we all assume we could handle the situation if we were ever involved in a crash—call 911, wait for police, get insurance information, etc. As an auto accident attorney in Sherman Oaks, however, I’ve met many people who didn’t know how to properly handle a car accident, especially in an emergency.
An article from Edmunds discusses what you should do immediately following a car accident.
The first step should be taken before you are ever involved in a crash: being prepared. You should keep an emergency kit in your glove compartment. Most people always have their cellphone at all times, but be sure to also have pen and paper for taking notes. A disposable camera is important, as is a list of medical conditions or allergies that may require special attention in the event of serious injuries.
In the event of a car accident, keep safety in mind above all else. If you’re involved in a minor accident with no serious injuries, move your car to the side of the road out of the way of oncoming traffic. If possible, take picture of the accident and accident scene before moving the vehicles (do so only if it is safe). If a car can’t be moved, drivers and passengers should stay in the cars with seatbelts fastened until help arrives. Be sure to turn on hazard lights or set out cones, flares, or warning triangles if possible.
Next, exchange information with the other driver. This includes the other driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number, and license plate number. Also write a written description of the car, including the year, make, model, and color.
Be polite, but don’t tell the other drivers or the police that the accident was your fault, even if you think it may have been.
Photograph the accident next. Use your camera or cellphone to document all the damage to all the vehicles. Be sure your photos show the overall context of the accident. If there were witnesses, try to get their information as well.
Next, file an accident report. Although law enforcement officers in many locations may not respond to car accidents unless there are injuries, drivers should file a state vehicle accident report. A police report often helps insurance companies speed up the claims process.
Also, know ahead of time what your insurance covers. Don’t wait until after an accident to find out that your policy doesn’t automatically cover costs for towing or a rental car.
Finally, contact an experienced car accident attorney right away, especially if you’ve been injured by the fault of another in the accident. A skilled California personal injury attorney can give you the help and guidance you need.