What to Do If You're in a Car Accident: Step-by-Step Guide - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Feb 6, 2022

What to Do If You're in a Car Accident: Step-by-Step Guide

Despite our best driving education, habits and intentions, the fact of the matter is that car accidents happen, and that even the most experienced driver can find the situation scary and confusing.

Here are the seven steps you should take if you find yourself in an automobile accident:


Step 1: Assess Yourself and Others for Injuries

If you are injured, call 9-1-1 or ask another passenger to do so. After assessing yourself, if you are not injured, check on your fellow passengers. Again, if anyone is injured, call 9-1-1 and await medical personnel.


Step 2: Stay Put

Never drive away from the scene of an accident, even if it’s something as minor as bumping the vehicle next to you as you’re backing out of a parking spot.


Step 3: Assess the Situation for Safety

If you bump a vehicle leaving a parking space, re-park your vehicle. If you experience an accident while driving and your car is still functioning, pull off to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights or four way flashers. If your car is unable to be driven, get yourself to safety by carefully exiting the vehicle and making your way to the side of the road or sidewalk. If you have a flashlight on hand, use it to stay visible.


Step 4: Call the Police

Even if the accident is minor, it’s always a good idea to call the police following a car accident (and in some states it’s a legal requirement). Responding officers will assess the situation, filling out an accident report and documenting the scene while on-site. If your vehicle was damaged during the accident, you may need a police report to file a claim with your auto insurer.


Step 5: Touch Base with the Other Driver

Once you have established everyone’s safety and made the appropriate calls, it’s time to exchange information with the other driver. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), these are the five basic points of information drivers should exchange following an auto accident:

-        Full name and contact information

-        Insurance company and policy number

-        Driver's license and license plate number

-        Make, color and model of vehicle

-        Location of accident

Step 6: Document the Accident

While the police officers will document the scene, the III encourages drivers to also do so in order to protect themselves. Take photographs of your vehicle from all angles and gather the following information:

-        The name and badge number of all responding officers

-        The names and addresses of all parties involved, including everyone in the other vehicle

-        The name and contact information of any witnesses (if they are willing)

Make sure that you also ask the police officers where you can find a copy of the accident report once it is filed.


Step 7: Start the Claims Process

If able, you may want to consider calling your insurance agent from the scene so that they can advise you on the exact information you will need for your claim. They can also help you start the claims process and explain what to expect if this is your first auto-related claim.


It’s common to feel anxious or frazzled following an accident, but following this guide can help you take all of the necessary steps towards ensuring everyone’s safety, following legal procedure and setting yourself up for a smooth claims experience.


Another way to protect yourself on the road is by always keeping a car safety kit in your vehicle. Click on the button below to learn more about what items to include in your kit and start assembling: