Accidents are scary and infuriating. One second it's a normal day and you're making your way to your point B and then next thing you know, your entire day has changed dramatically. Baring in mind the damage to your vehicle and/or someone else's, potential injuries and the rush of emotions that muddies your ability to keep an even kilter, the last thing you want to think about is paperwork. Or phone calls. Or any of the other bureaucratic tasks that accompany an accident.
However, it's crucial that you gather the correct information on the scene so that the post-accident process goes as smoothly as possible. The first thing and most important thing to do is to assess the accident. Make sure all of the parties involved, including yourself, are physically okay.
Assess the Damage
The next thing you'll need to do is decide how severe the damage is. If the vehicles are still operable and both parties are okay, it will be enough to trade insurance information with the other driver(s) involved. Make sure to take pictures or copy down the information on their license, registration, and proof of insurance. Allow them to do the same with your information.
Call A Peace Officer
It is also necessary to call a peace officer to guide you through the exchange. This allows a mediator between the parties involved and is also standard policy. If others witnessed the accident, it is likely that someone else called 911 already.
Having an officer there is helpful because they will copy down the reports of each driver and collect information as well. Take your time recalling exactly what happened. Your insurance company will likely reference the reports given on the scene so it is important that you be as honest and detailed as possible.
Call your Insurance Company
After you have dealt with on-the-scene procedures, call your insurance company and tell them you've been in an accident. They typically want to hear your personal report of what happened and what condition your vehicle is in. They may give you further instructions such as speaking with the other parties insurance provider, taking your car to a particular shop, etc.
Whether or not a peace officer was present on the scene of the accident, you must make sure the accident has been reported to the DMV. You have 10 days to do so. Your insurance company will not always do this for you. Just make sure to cover that base with the peace officer and your insurance agent.
One Person Accidents
Sometimes you are the only person involved: you ran off the road, hit an object, or a parked car. In these situations, it is best to call your insurance immediately and have them guide you through some best practices. In the case of a parked car, you may have to leave your names, number, and address on the vehicle dashboard and deal with the incident once they return.
Once the scene of the accident is cleared, both insurance providers have been notified and given accident reports, and the DMV has been called, your accident has officially been reported.