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What to do immediately after a car accident

October 27, 2009

On my way to work on Monday morning, I passed 3 car accidents, and I live less than 15 miles away from work! Monday is usually a hectic day on the roads, but 3 accidents within 5 miles of each other, that was something else. If you were in an accident (knock on wood), would you know what to do?

I asked the President of Patrion Insurance, Mari Rezinas, for the steps she suggests to take right after you get in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault.

1. If you think it was your fault do not admit so to the other party, your insurance company will determine fault.
2. If anyone is injured call 911 and ask for the police to come to the scene. In the event of a major injury, ask for the police and ambulance. Once the police arrive, ask for them to complete a written accident report and ask for that report number. You will need to provide this number to your insurance company. NOTE: If no one is injured, and if both cars are drivable, calling 911 is not necessary.
3. Find out if there are any witnesses to the accident and if so, get their name, address and phone number.
4. Most importantly, obtain the following information from the other driver:

  • Name, address and phone number.
  • Drivers License number. NOTE: If the address is different on the license than what they gave you, write it down.
  • Insurance Card information showing Insurance Company name and phone number and Policy Number.
  • Complete license plate number and year, make and model of their car.
  • Ask to see the registration and if the name on registration is different than the driver, write down the information off the registration. In addition, double check to be sure the License Plate number on the registration matches the car.

5. After leaving the accident scene, contact your insurance agent. If you do not have an agent, go to your insurance company’s web site and get their toll free number for reporting a claim. Usually within 24 hours you will be assigned an adjuster who will contact you.

The above information is great if it was the “perfect accident”. However, the only accident I was in was a hit-and-run. It wasn’t a horrible accident; the person wasn’t paying attention and hit me from behind at stop light. Of course, I proceeded to pull to the side of the road, when they zoomed right past me! I managed to catch up to them and get their license plate number and “nicely” gesture to pull over. They just kept zooming away. In this event, I contacted my insurance company who informed me to issue a police report. My insurance company assigned an investigator to my case and searched and finally found the other party’s insurance company, who covered the damages to my car. Lesson learned, ALWAYS get the license plate number, otherwise you don’t have a case and you’ll likely have to cover the damages.
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