There were over 5 million car accidents in the United States in 2020 alone. Even Iowa, which is only the 30th most populous state in the country, has a reported crash approximately every 10 minutes.

Fortunately, less than 1% of car accidents result in a fatality. But accidents are still extremely common occurrences, and about 43% of them cause injuries. That’s why knowing what to do immediately after an accident could do you a lot of good one day!


Move to a Safe Place

If you have been in a car accident, then the last thing you want is to cause another one. Move your vehicle as far to the side of the road as possible. You may feel compelled to leave the scene of the accident exactly as it is for the sake of the upcoming police report, but taking reasonable action to prevent additional injuries is considered appropriate under these circumstances. 


Exit Your Vehicle and Check for Injuries

If you are able to move your vehicle to a safe location – and your injuries aren’t obviously severe – get out of your vehicle and check yourself for injuries. If you perceive that you are injured in your head, neck or back, do not move.

Once you have ascertained the extent of your injuries, turn your attention to your vehicle’s passengers. If they appear to be badly injured, insist that they remain in place while you proceed to the next step.


Alert the Authorities

Call the police. Explain to them what happened and where, and inform them of the extent of your and your passengers’ injuries so they can dispatch commensurate medical assistance. If it is safe for you to do so, check on the occupants of the other vehicle and assess whether they require medical assistance as well.

Never assume that others will call 911 on your behalf. When many people witness an emergency, they become less likely to help – an odd psychological phenomenon known as the bystander effect.


Exchange Insurance Information With the Other Driver

It isn’t uncommon for a motorist to become belligerent following an accident – even if they are the one responsible for causing it. If the driver of the other car appears in any way to be aggressive or otherwise unreceptive to rational conversation, do not press them to provide any information. The police will assist with that shortly after their arrival. But if the other motorist is willing, write down or record the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • License plate number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Auto insurance provider
  • Auto insurance policy number

Document the Scene of the Accident

Once again, we must emphasize that you should not undertake any actions that could jeopardize your safety. So long as it is safe for you to do so, begin documenting the scene of the accident.

In addition to your own vehicle, photograph and/or video record other vehicles that were involved in the accident. Other important points of interest include the location where the accident occurred, any debris now lying on the ground, and evidence of tire skid marks. If you are uncertain whether a detail is relevant, record it anyway. Doing so will not harm your cause later on.

Determine whether anyone may have witnessed all or part of the accident. If they are willing to provide it, take their contact information: name, address and phone number. Their eyewitness account may prove valuable at some point in the near future.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

Once you have finished receiving any necessary medical care, contact your auto insurance provider and relate all the details of the accident to their representative. Doing so will commence the insurance claim process.

You may be contacted by the other driver’s insurance company shortly after the accident. Their goal is simple: gather any evidence which could suggest (A) that you were at fault for the accident, and (B) that your injuries are less severe than reported. What you disclose to the other driver’s insurance representative could badly impact your claim, so follow this advice:

  • Ask the representative if they are recording the call; do not consent to having your statement recorded
  • Do not discuss your injuries; it is probable that you will know their extent at the time of the call
  • Do not issue any apologies for the accident, even if you believe your actions did cause or contribute to it
  • Do not offer any more information than is necessary to answer direct questions; do not guess or speculate while answering
  • Refer the representative to your own insurance company if they ask for anything more than basic information about the accident

Auto insurance isn’t just required by Iowa state law. It is peace of mind that you will be able to repair or replace your vehicle following an accident – and that you will not be financially ruined by medical bills. If you would like to partner with a local insurance agency that will stand by you during a stressful time, then we welcome you to contact The Hoffman Agency today!