How to Handle Traffic Accidents
Handling Traffic Accidents
From distracted driving to fatigue and impairment, traffic accidents are very common in our fast paced world. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 6,452,00 traffic accidents occurred in 2017, which equals over 17,000 accidents daily. Furthermore, it's estimated that city policy departments spend an average of 250 hours per week filling out traffic accident reports. Moreover, there are a number of cities where police do not respond to non-injury traffic accidents.
If you should find yourself involved in a traffic accident, it’s important to know beforehand what steps to take if you’re involved in a collision.
Steps to Take
- Stop your Vehicle: Stop your vehicle as as soon as is safely possible. If the situation does not allow for you to stop immediately stop as soon as conditions allow.
- Move the Vehicle: Move your vehicle off the roadway as quickly as you can. If the vehicle is immovable, try to make it at least visible to the passing traffic by turning on the hazard lights. NOTE: In some states it’s against the law to move a vehicle from where it ended up after a collision. Make sure you know your local laws to know if you are able to move the car or not.
- Turn Off Ignition: Make sure all vehicles involved in the accident are turned off. Check that there are no visible gas leaks or any other potential dangers.
- Get out and stay clear of the vehicle - Once the vehicles are moved or stationary with the engines turned off, move away from them. Make sure you and any other drivers or car occupants are out of the way of moving traffic.
- Assess Injuries: Check yourself and others to make sure that no one is injured. If a person is seriously injured do not move them unless they are in imminent danger.
- Call Police and Medical Services: If the police, or law enforcement branch for the area in which you are located, will respond to a non-injury accident or there are injuries contact them immediately. If there are injuries requiring immediate medical attention call for medical services as well. You should also alert the police if the vehicles are blocking the roadway when speaking to them.
- Exchange Information: Get the other driver's:
- Telephone number
- Driver's license number
- Name of their insurance company
- The insurance policy number
- Name and number of insurance company contact
- Write down the information about the other vehicle (make, model, year and license number), also get the names of any passengers that were in the vehicle.
- Get Witness Statements: If people stopped as witnesses to the accident have them write down what they saw along with their name and telephone number. If the witness can't stay until the police arrive ask them to sign their statement and leave it with you to give to the police.
- Document the Scene: If you have a camera or, a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of the vehicles, the intersection or part of the road where the accident occurred, and any skid marks as well. If you received injuries take pictures of them if possible. If you don’t have a camera, make a diagram of the scene. Sketch out where the vehicle occupants were seated and in which direction and lane the vehicles were traveling. Record the date, time and weather conditions.
- Company Contact: If driving a company vehicle for work, contact your employer to notify them of the accident and get information about where to take the vehicle or the location to have it towed.
- Speak with Police: If the police or other law enforcement agent responds to the accident scene give them your account of what occurred and your driver's license and insurance information. Witnesses should also speak with the police to explain what they saw and give their personal information.
- Record Police Information: Write down the name and badge number of the responding police and any other emergency personnel. Find out if the law enforcement is the local police, sheriff, or highway patrol so you know who to contact to obtain a copy of the police report.
How to Leave the Scene
After following these steps you will likely be ready to leave the accident scene. If the police are present, do not leave until they give permission. If your vehicle is too damaged to drive then a tow truck should be called to take the vehicle to your business, home, repair shop, or dealership service department. Once you are away from the scene contact your insurance company, and the other party's insurance company (if they were at fault), so the claim process can begin. Remain in contact with the insurance company or your employer until your settlement is negotiated completely.
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