Motor vehicle accidents have been increasing in number since cellphones became universal. Over the five years from 2011 to 2016, there were more than 7 million crashes in the U.S.
Being in a car accident can be jolting. With so much going on in the immediate aftermath, there are some important things to keep in mind. Here are 10 of them, should you find yourself joining that statistic:
- Always Stop if You Are Involved in an Accident
That’s law. Even when you believe there’s no damage.
- Check for Injuries
If anyone needs urgent medical care, call an ambulance immediately.
“Today, with people having cell phones, go ahead and call 911, especially if there are injuries,” advises Pam Hansen Alfred, a State Farm agent in Great Falls. ”Taking care of those injuries is the most critical thing.”
- Turn on Your Hazard Lights and Get Out of Traffic
If it seems as if there are no injuries, move the vehicles out of the way and to the closest safe place.
- Call Police
Police will sort through the scene, talk to the involved parties, and write up an accident report. Even with a minor accident, it is important to make sure there is a legal accident report.
- Avoid Being Too Chatty
Limit conversation about the accident with the other party. Only talk about the accident with the police, medical professionals and your insurance representative. Don’t admit responsibility for the accident.
- Notify Your Insurer
Call your agent or insurance company’s emergency claims number immediately, or file a claim online as some insurers, such as State Farm, allow for electronic filing, Hansen Alfred suggests.
“You can go to the mobile site and upload the pictures from the accident and you don’t even need to talk to anybody,” she says.
- Take Notes
Capture as many details as possible at the scene. Write down information about the damage to all cars and get contact information from any possible witnesses.
- Get Photos
Snap the scene with your cell phone, including property damage, the positioning of the cars and where they were on the street.
“You can take pictures of the license plates; because people don’t always stay there and wait. You hope they do, but they don’t always,” Hansen Alfred says.
- Get Information About the Other Driver and Vehicle
That includes the name, address, phone number and other contact information of the other driver; their insurance company and policy number; vehicle description, make, model and year; vehicle registration and vehicle license plate number.
If the name on the vehicle registration and/or insurance policy is different from that of the driver, establish the relationship and note it.
- Stay at the Site
Do not leave the scene of the accident until everything is taken care of.
Pam Hansen Alfred’s office at 2817 10th Avenue South in Great Falls provides auto, home, business, property, life and health insurance. The Great Falls native has been a State Farm agent since 1986, and has a team ready discuss your coverage needs at 406-453-6010 or 800-823-3620.
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