Involved in a Car Collision? Here's What to Do
It's a fact of life—no matter how safe a driver you happen to be, there are circumstances beyond your control that may cause a car collision. Bad weather, icy or snowy conditions, other drivers making bad decisions, wildlife lurching in front of the car—any or all of these things can play a role in causing an accident.
If this happens to you, having a plan in place can help keep stress and costs down, and in extreme cases can even save someone's life. Here's a quick guide for what to do after a car collision:
Check on everyone
In any automobile accident, the number one priority is always health and safety. If you or anyone else involved has been hurt in the collision, call 911 right away for medical assistance. This includes injuries that don't seem serious, because injuries and bleeding can happen internally, as well. Minutes could literally make the difference between life and death, so take this seriously and get help on the scene.
Contact the police, then don't leave the scene
The next priority after everyone's health is to get a police report, even for minor accidents. The police report serves as evidence that insurance companies use to determine who's at fault and who must pay for damages and auto body repairs. Without that report, it would be your word against the other party's, making it more difficult to get payment from insurance. If you've called 911 in the previous step, the police should also be alerted with that call. Otherwise, contact the police, and don't leave the scene until they get there. (Don't let the other party leave, either, even if they complain. Insist on police presence.)
Two words: document everything. If you have a camera phone, take photos of the vehicles involved from multiple angles. Exchange insurance and contact information with all other parties involved; take photos of proof of insurance, driver licenses, and anything else you can think of that will prove what happened. This documentation will help streamline the processing of your claim and gives the insurance company less wiggle-room when it comes time to pay.
Notify the insurance companies
The next step is to take all your documentation (including police reports, photos and other information) and give it to the insurance companies. If the other party is at fault, his/her insurance should pay the claim, but notify your own insurance company even if you weren't at fault, because they may be able to exert some influence if needed. One or both insurance companies may send an adjuster out to look at the damage firsthand and determine how much repairs should cost.
Choose a good auto body repair shop
If your vehicle has physical damage, you need to have the repairs done at an auto body shop with a good reputation, preferably one that is I-CAR certified and will work with your insurance to get repairs done within budget. In Portland, Oregon, ADESA's Auto & Truck Collision Repair is a Gold Class I-Car certified body shop specializing in quality collision repair, including special needs like truck and RV collision repair; if you've been in a car collision, ADESA's can be reached for a free estimate 503-674-5463.
ADESA Auto & Truck Collision Repair Blog
Written & Published By MORBiZ