Accidents happen. You may or may not know what to do, and what not to do, if you are involved in a crash.

After the screeching of tires and crunching of metal is over, the first thing is to make sure everyone is okay. Then it’s time to deal with the other driver, see if there are any witnesses, and exchange information – but you are rattled, upset and maybe not thinking clearly.

Here are key things that you should do:

  1. Get the name, phone number and insurance policy number of the other driver(s)
  2. Get the license plate numbers, year, make and model of the other vehicle(s)
  3. If possible, take pictures that not only show the damage but the position of the vehicles – what lanes they are in, etc.
  4. Get names and contact information of any witnesses
  5. Be observant of the actions of the others involved
  6. Call the nearest law enforcement agency and make a report
  7. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible

Things you shouldn’t do:

  • Don’t admit fault or apologize
  • Don’t lose control of your emotions
  • Don’t let the other party take a picture of your driver’s license (the National Association of Insurance Commissioners warns that information can be used by identity thieves)
  • Don’t leave the scene before you exchange information
  • Don’t accept money from the other party to avoid reporting the crash to insurance

While you should report all accidents to your insurance company, law enforcement may not need to be called for a minor non-injury collision. Be sure to obtain all the pertinent information in case you decide to file a report.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has produced a Wreck Check safety pamphlet that every driver should carry. You can find a link from the California Casualty Resource Page,

There are a few other important things our adjusters want people to know:

  • Make sure to get the correct contact information and license plate of the other vehicle(s) involved
  • Make sure to give your best contact number or email to help speed up their claim
  • Make sure to report any hit-and-run crashes to law enforcement and provide as much information as possible
California Casualty

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