Consider printing this out and putting it into the glove compartment of your vehicle. Here we go:
1. Create a safe scene.
Before anything else bad happens, secure the scene. The general rule is: get everyone and every vehicle out of further harm’s way if possible. This may involve moving drivable cars onto the shoulder and placing flairs or flags to warn other drivers to slow down. But use common sense; for instance, if someone looks like they may have a spinal injury, don’t move them.
2. Check for injuries.
Speaking of injuries, that’s next on our list. Make sure everyone is ok. Assess your own injuries first, then check to make sure everyone else is ok. Start CPR if someone isn’t breathing. Apply pressure to severely bleeding wounds. Yelling... “is there a doctor here?” will let medical professionals nearby know that they are needed.
3. Call 911.
As you are checking for injuries, yell for someone to call 911. Most accidents need law enforcement to at least document what happened. If you are alone, you should make the call immediately. You could unknowingly go into shock, so calling 911 is at the top of the list.
4. Collect information.
Once these first things are taken care of, you should take a breath and start collecting information. Get everyone’s details, including insurance companies. Take photos of the scene and the license plates of the vehicles. Get first-responder’s names too. The weakest pencil lead (or cell phone camera) is stronger than the strongest memory in these situations. Don’t trust your normally good memory.
5. Cooperate completely.
You may be upset (that’s normal), but first responders are trained to handle these situations. Cooperate with them. It’s hard for most of us to give up control, but we must do so when professionals show up. Do what they say, and encourage everyone else to do the same.
1. Don’t confess.
Though you should cooperate completely, it doesn’t mean that you should confess to fault or blame right now, while steam is still rising from the vehicles. You’re in shock and full of adrenaline; that’s the worst time to talk about what happened. Tell officers that you want to talk about what happened... later... after you’ve calmed down. Then consider calling an attorney if you think you may be at fault. At the very least, call a responsible friend. Blame and guilt can be addressed later.
2. Don’t comment on social media.
Please, clam up on social media. Do not talk online about what you may have done wrong. Claims investigators and attorneys are skilled at finding your social media chats. So please, just don’t.
Your first call, after family and possibly your attorney, should be to your insurance agent. Your agent is your advocate through the claims process. Talk to them, and let them guide you through the next steps.
Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates helping clients with insurance needs for personal, commercial and business insurance. Bruce can be reached at 707-931-0186, firstname.lastname@example.org