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What to Do If You Get In a Car Accident?

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Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency...

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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car accident

So you’ve been in a car accident.

You’re frazzled, you’re scared, and a million emotions are running through your head.

Regardless of how you may feel, it’s key to keep calm for your own safety.

And also to ensure you know exactly what happened, because you’ll certainly be asked to make a statement once things settle down.

Below is a general checklist of duties one should perform if they’ve been in a car accident:

  • Look around before exiting your vehicle to ensure it’s safe to do so. Often times cars are still whizzing by and you could put yourself in more danger if you’re not careful.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency phone number to let the authorities know there has been an accident (if it warrants such attention).
  • Make certain any injured persons are promptly given medical attention.
  • Move the damaged vehicles safely out of the path of traffic if possible.
  • Call the police department (Not applicable in all states. Check with your state Department of Insurance if you are unsure).
  • Take pictures of the accident if possible. Nowadays, many people have mobile phones with built-in cameras. In the event of a disagreement as to who is at fault, photos are a great way to validate statements.
  • Exchange insurance information with all individuals involved in the accident.
  • Gather names, phone numbers, and addresses of any witnesses who remain at the scene, who are willing to assist you.
  • Regardless of whether or not the accident was your fault, contact your insurance company and make them aware of the incident. Give them all of the information you’ve collected, including any pictures you take.

Your insurance company will let you know what needs to be done after this point.

They’ll typically want you to contact them directly, even if you bought your insurance from an independent agent.

As always, be certain to read your entire insurance policy, which will provide very specific duties you are responsible for in the event of an accident.

Read more: How much does insurance go up after an accident?

(photo: Leonid Mamchenkov)

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