I recently had a fender bender in a parking lot. While it wasn’t a bad accident in any respect, it did give me an opportunity to review what to do in case of a collision. Print these tips and keep them in the glove box of your car, and be sure to review them with new drivers in your household.
Check for Injuries
If anyone is injured, make them the priority. Contact police and let the operator know if there are injuries so they can alert rescue personnel.
Get to Safety
Move out of traffic, if possible, and to a safer location. Do not stop the flow of traffic or block lanes if the cars involved can be safely moved.
Write down the names of everyone at the scene, insurance information, driver’s licenses, and tag numbers of vehicles involved, including names and phone numbers of witnesses.
Make a Record
Use your cell phone to take photos of the vehicles and people involved. Take special note of the position of the cars and the location of the damage, including any damage on property.
Obtain the name of the officer on the scene, along with a contact number and badge number. Obtain a copy of the police report, or the number of the police report so you can get it at a later date. Find out if citations will be issued, and what your rights and responsibilities are. Get everything in writing; in the stress and confusion after an accident, it’s possible you’ll forget important information.
Contact your insurance provider. They may want to take a recorded statement. You are not required to do this right away, but at some point will likely be required to give your insurance representative an official account of the events that took place.
Trust your insurance company or legal representative to do their jobs. Don’t talk to other drivers except to obtain insurance information and personal details. Do not give an official statement to anyone except law enforcement personnel. You should never give out your social security number or credit card number to anyone on the scene, including law enforcement.
Keep a pen and paper in your car at all times, for use in case of emergency. It might also be a good idea to keep a disposable camera in your car; they’re inexpensive and handy in case your cell phone is damaged or missing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that you replace your child’s car seat after a moderate or severe car crash. In the event of a minor crash, child safety seats may be safe to reuse. Check with the NHTSA page detailing the criteria for re-use of child safety restraints for additional information.