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Do You Know What to Do at the Scene of a Car Accident?

A car accident can be extremely unsettling, particularly if there are injuries involved. To make ensure that you know how to respond, it is important to understand what to do beforethe accident occurs.

Below are a few guidelines. Take the time to familiarize yourself with them and share them with the other drivers in your family! Better yet, keep a copy in your car in case you need to consult them should you find yourself in a car accident.

  • Stop your car and find out if anyone is injured.
  • If you can’t get out of your car — or it’s not safe to try — keep your seat belt fastened, turn on your hazard lights, then call 911 if possible and wait for help to arrive. If you can drive your car and are in an unsafe spot or are blocking traffic, find a safe and legal place to park your car (like the shoulder of a highway or a parking lot).
  • Tell 911 how many people were hurt and the types of injuries. Also, let the dispatcher know exactly where the emergency is taking place. Give the city, road name, road number, mile markings, direction of travel, traffic signs, and anything else you can think of to help them know how to find you. They will notify the nearest medical unit.
  • Cover injured people with a blanket to keep them warm. Remember, not all injuries can be seen. That’s why it is often best not to try and move an injured person.
  • Try to protect the accident scene. If it’s safe to get out and move around your car, set up orange cones, warning triangles, or emergency flares around the crash site.
  • Ask the investigating officer where you can obtain a copy of the police report. You will probably need it when you submit your claim to your insurance company.
  • Make notes. Keep a pad and pencil in your glove compartment. Write down: the names and addresses of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident; license plate numbers; the make and model of each car; driver’s license number; insurance identifications; the names and addresses of witnesses; and the names and badge numbers of police officers or other emergency personnel.
  • If you can, make a diagram of the scene, including the locations of the vehicles before and after the crash.
  • Even if you think it was your fault, it might not be. Therefore, you should not admit fault or accept blame at the scene.
  • Keep records of your insurance claims, medical bills, missed work, and crash-related expenses. These documents will be extremely important if you pursue a lawsuit.