While auto accidents occur every day, the experience still scares most people. In a heightened state of confusion, many drivers act hastily and make crucial mistakes. However, knowing what to do when you have been in an accident makes all the difference.
After the collision, pull off to the side of the road. Vehicles sitting in the middle of the road create a hazard for oncoming cars. If moving your car without the help of a tow truck proves impossible, switch on your hazard lights and walk to the side of the road. Next, ask everyone involved if they are okay. A serious injury warrants an emergency call.
If everyone claims to be okay, discuss with the other party whether or not to call the police. Accident reports are required by law in the state of Michigan when property damages exceeds $1,000. If you believe that the damages accrue up to that amount, call 911 and wait for the police. Keep in mind that visibly minor dents and scratches can underlie more serious damages to the vehicle.
Take notes of the incident. Note the weather, road conditions, location, direction of the vehicles, the speed limit and any other relevant information that your insurance company needs. Take pictures of the damages and the scene of the accident. If the other party refuses to comply and tries to drive away, locate eyewitnesses and obtain their contact information.
If possible, exchange information with the other driver. Useful information includes their name, address, phone number, email, insurance company, policy number, and driver’s license number. Never exchange your Social Security Number; neither a police report nor an insurance claim requires a SSN.
With all of the necessary information gathered, call your insurance agency as soon as possible. If the accident was the fault of the other driver, you may call their insurance company and file a claim with them if you do not wish to file a claim with your own insurance company.
Lastly, bring your car to a body shop to inspect the damages before resuming your daily drive. Minor damages such as dings and scrapes may just be the tip of the iceberg. Typically, the insurance company of the driver at fault pays for the repair costs.