Nobody plans on getting into an automobile accident. However, you can better prepare yourself for what happens after an accident by being aware and doing a few easy things. Here are some simple steps to use or consider:
As a responsible driver, you should always carry an emergency kit in your car in your glove compartment, trunk, or other area of your vehicle. An emergency kit should have things such as first aid supplies, flashlight and spare batteries, a spare cell phone battery, as well as pen and paper for taking notes, a disposable camera to take photos of the vehicles involved, and a card with information about medical allergies or conditions that may require special attention if there are serious injuries. Also, keep a list of contact numbers for family and law enforcement agencies handy.
A set of cones, warning triangles or emergency flares should be kept in the trunk as well.
If involved in a minor automobile collision with no serious injuries, drivers should move their vehicles off to the side of the road and should keep everyone a safe distance from the road so as not to impede drivers or cause additional accidents and injuries.
If anyone is seriously injured in the accident, he or she should remain in the vehicle with seat belts fastened until help arrives, providing the situation doesn't involve a vehicle fire or some other scenario in which staying in the vehicle becomes more dangerous than getting out.
Be sure to talk with other drivers involved and exchange the following information: name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver's license number and plate number for each vehicle involved. Also, if there are any witnesses to the accident be sure to get their contact information as well.
Make a written description of each car, including year, make, model and color, as well as what damage appears to be caused from the accident and how and where the accident happened.
If you have a camera, be sure to take pictures of the vehicles involved and any apparent damage done as a result of the accident. Try to get as many pictures and angles of the vehicles as possible to help prevent fraudulent insurance claims.
Though it is possible that law enforcement may not respond to accidents unless there are injuries, you should still make an attempt to contact the local police or sheriff's department to file a state vehicle accident report. The Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles website has a downloadable form which can be used to file an accident report. An accident report often helps insurance companies speed up the claims process as well.
Dealing with the insurance company following an accident is a fairly straightforward process. However, you should make sure to know the specifics of your auto insurance policy ahead of time. For example, don't wait until after an accident to find out that your policy doesn't automatically cover costs for towing or a replacement rental car.
Another common insurance question in dealing with a vehicle accident is usually who pays for any damages? In some scenarios, you and the other drivers might decide to try and settle the bill without involving each other's insurance companies. But this isn't always a great idea, for several reasons. The other driver might decide that the bills are too high and refuse to pay after some time has passed making it harder for an insurance company to process a claim. Other drivers may still report the accident to their insurance company without you initially knowing. They could even go as far as claiming false injuries or damages as a result of the accident and involve you in a legal lawsuit.