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What should I do if I get into an accident?

What should I do if I get into an accident?

Getting into a car accident is always stressful. Not only is there the risk of someone getting hurt, there's the damage to your car, the inconvenience, the possible increase in general auto insurance -- the list goes on. The most important thing to remember is to not panic. Read these tips, and at the very least you will know that you are prepared for the worst.

1. Make sure that no one is injured
The first thing you must do is ensure that neither you, nor the other driver, has been injured in the crash. Check the passengers of your car, then check on the car with which you collided. If anyone has been hurt, call 911 immediately and wait for an ambulance to arrive. 

2. Avoid another accident
The last thing that you need after a collision is for another car to become involved in the crash. If your car still works, pull over to the side of the road where you won't be hit by another vehicle. If the car isn't going to move on its own, either turn on the emergency lights or pull out the flares to increase your visibility. 

3. Call the police
Even if the other driver is trying to convince you not to call the police, you still absolutely should, according to The Art of Manliness. There are four good reasons for this:

  • You may be legally required to call the police. This doesn't necessarily mean that the police will be dispatched. "We don't dispatch a police car to every fender bender," James Kenneally, a Boston police officer, told Bankrate​.com. But, it is important that a record of the accident is made.
  • The police will help to establish liability if it isn't clear who is at fault. Otherwise, you may find yourself unfairly bearing the blame for an accident that was really caused by the other party.
  • Police officers are trained to identify "staged" car accidents. Some nefarious citizens will try to keep you from involving the police in order to try to scam your general auto insurance provider - sending your rates up. The police can help to save you from this by identifying a bogus accident.
  • A police officer on the scene can help to keep everyone civil. Often, the scene of a car crash can get heated. An officer can help keep the peace and ensure that everything goes smoothly.

4. Exchange insurance information
Again, sometimes another driver will try to keep you from contacting your insurance company, suggesting that he or she will settle outside of insurance. There are some states where your general auto insurance provider isn't barred from raising your insurance even if you aren't at fault for an accident, according to Bankrate​.com. In that case, a minor claim, like a fender bender, might not be worth reporting. You should still get information from the other driver, however, in case you need to file a claim later. Here's what you need:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email (optional)
  • Driver's license number
  • Insurance company
  • Policy number

The Art of Manliness reminds drivers that no one needs your social security number to file a claim. If anyone at all asks for it, tell them politely, but firmly, that they don't need that information.

5. Record details about the accident
Write down the time and location of the accident, as well as a description of the other car, involved individuals, and any damage to people or property while it is fresh in your mind. Take lots of pictures and get the contact details of any witnesses, in case you need to back up your claim later on. It may seem like overkill now, but you will thank yourself for it later.

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