What are the Best Things to do After Traffic Accidents?

Lori Smith

Traffic accidents usually happen in a matter of seconds. Sometimes, they are simply a nuisance to the parties involved and damage from the crash is minimal. Serious collisions, however, can result in injury, or sometimes death, to drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. Generally, the best thing to do immediately following traffic accidents of any magnitude is to make sure everyone involved is okay. Then, emergency services or law enforcement should be called so that an ambulance can be dispatched to the scene, if needed, and an accident report can be filed by police.

If the cars are still operational, drivers should move their cars out of the way of oncoming traffic.
If the cars are still operational, drivers should move their cars out of the way of oncoming traffic.

When minor traffic accidents occur, the local law enforcement authorities should be called so that a police report can be filed. When an officer arrives at the scene, he will usually request a driver's license, auto insurance card, and vehicle registration from each of the drivers. He uses this information for the police report. The officer will usually assess the damage each car sustained, after making sure that nobody is hurt. Then, he will often speak to the drivers individually to get each person's story, which can help determine who might have been at fault. When speaking to the police, it is always best to remain calm and simply tell them what happened.

The police should be called after a traffic accident.
The police should be called after a traffic accident.

In addition to interviewing involved parties and witnesses, the officer will probably look at other clues, such as skid-marks on the road, weather conditions, and the type of damage each vehicle sustained. This information is helpful to determine which driver will be issued a traffic ticket for causing the accident. The person who is at fault is generally the one whose insurance company will cover the cost of the other car owner’s damages. At the conclusion of the officer’s brief investigation, he will usually give each driver a copy of the police report, which insurance companies often require in order to process a claim for damages.

After receiving a citation in a traffic accident, a driver should contact his insurance provider.
After receiving a citation in a traffic accident, a driver should contact his insurance provider.

Each car owner should contact his or her insurance company as soon as possible following traffic accidents. The insurance agent will usually ask a series of questions, request a copy of the police report, and set up an appointment for a claim’s adjuster to inspect the vehicle. This is generally necessary to determine the amount of money the insured individual is entitled to receive for auto repairs. Sometimes, the funds are paid directly to the car owner. Other times, an auto body repair shop may receive payment for services directly from the insurance company.

When physical injury occurs in traffic accidents, the insurance company may pay for medical expenses as well as property damage. This money is generally sent directly to the hospital, doctor, or physical therapist. In some cases, a person may receive additional compensation as reimbursement for lost time at work. The compensation an injured party receives usually depends on the coverage limits of the insurance policy.

When minor traffic accidents occur, the local law enforcement authorities should be called.
When minor traffic accidents occur, the local law enforcement authorities should be called.

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Discussion Comments

Lostnfound

Assuming no one is seriously injured, call the police, then your insurance company. Also, as common as cameras are in cell phones, you can document the scene with your phone, which I recommend. All the traffic spray paint and diagrams drawn by the police do not convey the same image that actual photographs do. Take photos of the scene as a whole, the damage to your car and the damage to the other person's car, without getting too close. Accident scenes are emotional places and you don't want to get into a fight.

Don't argue with the person about fault. Let the police handle it, and call the police, even if the other person asks you not to -- especially then. That's a red flag for no insurance. Get the other driver's insurance information from the police officer. Don't interact with the other driver any more than necessary to determine he or she is not hurt.

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