Steps to Take After an Accident

Pull over and call 911. After stopping your car and, if you can, pulling out of the line of traffic, don’t forget to turn on your hazard lights.

Even if no one is hurt, it’s a good idea to call 911. It isn’t against the law to just exchange insurance information and move on. But if you call 911 or your local precinct and bring in a neutral third party to document the accident, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.

Exchange car insurance information. If you do nothing else, do this. Your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company need each other’s contact information to decide who pays for the damages. Don’t depend on local law enforcement to always get correct insurance information. Mistakes do happen.

Get a police report. After an accident the local police department responding to the scene will provide you with a police report number and instructions to obtain a police report.

Make small talk. It’s best not to take complete ownership of an accident, even if you believe you were at fault.

If you were at fault, tell the truth, but stick to the facts and don’t offer your opinion, at least until you’ve had a chance to process everything.

Take photos and gather witnesses. If you have a smartphone, it can be helpful to take photos of the damages, especially if you know you weren’t at fault and want to prove it. If you can find eye witnesses and collect their contact information to give to the police and to your insurance company, even better.