From Collisions to Dents: What to do Following a Car Accident

Having an automobile accident is one of the most upsetting and disruptive events many of us will ever experience. Not only do we feel mental stress, anguish, and anger; when an accident is serious, we also endure injury and pain.

Besides these emotionally (and sometimes physically) disruptive issues, you then must deal with the damage to your car and the inconvenience of its loss while being repaired. Unfortunately, you can easily make the situation much worse if you don’t follow a few simple rules.

Since we never know when it’s “our turn” to have a car accident. Please keep the following helpful hints on what to do after an automobile accident in mind and I promise you will feel much more prepared.

First and Foremost…
Determine immediately whether you, your passengers, or the occupants of any other vehicles involved have been injured. If so, immediately call 911 and report the accident.

If no one has been hurt, I still want you to Dial 911 to dispatch a Police Officer. Even if the other driver wants to “Handle the matter just between the two of you” — DON’T!

In most circumstances, when a driver does not want to call the police – something is wrong. In many cases, you will find out they have been driving their car without direct auto insurance coverage. If that’s the case, once you leave the scene – you’re stuck.

A police officer will make sure everything is handled in a professional manner, will take a report, and will determine if any of the drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They will also control the traffic around the accident scene so you and your passengers don’t get hurt in the aftermath of the collision – an occurrence more common than you may think.

The police report can be used in the auto insurance claim investigation to determine the fault of the drivers. It contains information about the date of the accident, time of accident, location of the accident, and the names and addresses of the parties involved. Other important data may include the names of witnesses, damage to the vehicles, and damage to other property. If the accident is serious enough, the police will take a detailed report and record the accident scene with a diagram.

Before the Police Arrive on the Scene
Unless you’re hurt or the other driver is hostile, do your best to exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, and auto insurance information like the name of their auto insurance carrier and the policy number.

Do Your Best to Get the Names of People Who Saw the Accident
Witnesses can help you and the police to sort out the details of an accident. They may even be able to shed light on who is truly at fault. If witnesses want to leave, encourage them to stay. It is against the law to leave the scene of an accident if you are a witness.

Snap Some Pictures
Almost every cell phone nowadays has a digital camera function. Take pictures of everything involved in the accident. Pictures of the accident scene could be very helpful if the at fault party does not want to take responsibility or attempts to change the story.

Keep your Thoughts to Yourself and the Police Officer
Although it’s perfectly fine to show concern and ask the other driver or passengers if they are they hurt, it is not a good idea for you to discuss any details of the accident with anyone except the police, your insurance agent and the auto insurance company. Why? Well, the guilty party may change their story based on information you shared unnecessarily. As an insurance agent for nearly 20 years, I have seen this happen dozens of times.

Although most people are honest and would never do such a thing, there are some who simply are dishonest and will prey on your honesty, compassion and sympathy regarding the situation.

Call Your Auto Insurance Agent as Soon as Possible
Your agent will provide you will a toll-free number to the claims department at the auto insurance carrier you are insured with. A 24 Hour claims representative with take a recorded statement of the accident details.

If you have a copy of the police report, they may ask you to fax it to them. If not, they will obtain a copy themselves. A claims adjuster will be assigned to your accident claim to ensure your car is fixed, that you obtain a rental car if required, and that any medical bills incurred are billed to the auto insurance company and properly paid.

My Driver’s Side Door has a Big Dent
If you purchased comprehensive or collision coverage on your auto insurance policy, you have the right to have your car repaired, less the agreed upon deductible. Most auto insurance carriers will allow you to take your car to any auto body repair shop you feel comfortable with. If you don’t know of one, ask your claims adjuster or your agent to recommend an approved repair facility to you.

Place Your Bills, Receipts and Accident Information in a Safe Place
It’s vital you hold on to any medical bills you have paid co-pays on and keep a record if you missed any work. I always tell my customers to keep everything regarding the accident in a single folder. You will need these documents if you need to file for a supplemental claim payment. Once the claim is complete and your car has been repaired and returned to you, you can put the file away in case you need it.

If you have any other questions, send me an email at or call (800) 807-0763