It’s a good idea to keep a checklist of post-accident phases somewhere easy to remember in your car, pocketbook, or wallet. This will help make sure that you don’t forget a step that could come back to hurt you.
Before your next car trip, make sure all of your important documents (driver’s license, car insurance card, health insurance card, vehicle registration, list of emergency contacts, etc.) are in your pocketbook or wallet. You should also keep your phone at least partly charged at all times (or keep an emergency charger with you) and if your car insurance company has an app, go ahead and install it.
What to do after an accident:
Automobiles left in the roadway can cause additional accidents, so move out of the flow of traffic if no one is seriously injured and the cars are drivable. If either vehicle is too damaged to move or there are serious injuries, leave it up to the tow trucks and EMTs.
In some cases the police may not need to file a report, if the damage was minor and no one was visibly injured for example, but it’s wisest to call and let them make that choice. If you make the choice for them and it turns out that a report did need to be filed, you could end up with a fine, or worse.
If both cars are drivable and the accident doesn’t require a police report, simply exchange insurance and contact information (once you’ve taken notes on any damage and how the accident occurred) and you’re to go.
If not, wait for police. If you leave the scene of the accident before the police have cleared you, you could face serious consequences, particularly if there were injuries or major damage.
If you already downloaded your insurance provider’s app, you should be able to snap pictures of any damage and send them that way. If not, just make sure to take plenty of pictures and notes for when you call them.
Even if you feel okay, you should get evaluated for any injuries no more than 24 hours after a car accident. Panic and shock can mask injury symptoms and if you discover them later it could be too late to prove they came from your accident, leaving you without compensation for the medical coverage you need.