Regardless of how careful you are, it’s all too common to get a small dent in your car door due to someone not paying attention in a parking lot, or something a bit more involved due to someone texting while driving. Regardless of the reason, accidents do happen. And while we all know that it was the other guy’s fault, there are a few things that you can do to make the process of getting your car or truck back on the road as quick and painless as possible.
When there’s been an accident of any kind, safety should always be your primary concern. Too many people suffer additional injuries due to not taking proper precautions after an accident has occurred. So after an accident, check to see if anyone is hurt. If there are injuries, or if you’re in doubt, call 911 immediately.
If the accident was relatively minor and nobody appears to be hurt, you still may have to call the police and file an accident report. In Wisconsin, all accidents must be reported if there is an injury, death, or more than $1,000 in damage to any single vehicle. If you’ve had any collision work done to your vehicle lately, you understand that it doesn’t take much before your bill is more than $1,000. And as you might expect, your insurance company will require a police report as well if you file a claim. More information on how to report an accident in Wisconsin can be found online at http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/traffic/accident.htm.
If the accident is relatively minor and it took place on a road, it’s a good idea to move your vehicle out of traffic to a safe place such as alongside the road or to a side street if possible. If the accident is more serious, it is advisable to stay in your car with your seatbelt on, call 911, and wait until help arrives. As tempting as it may be to get out to survey the damage and talk with others that may have been involved, there will be plenty of time for that later once it is safe to do so. While waiting for help, turn on your hazard lights to alert others as best possible.
Once help has arrived or you’re in a safe place away from traffic, you’ll want to document the accident as best you can. As you might expect, everyone involved in the accident is probably a bit shook-up, so be polite and stay as calm as possible, so as not to cause any unneeded stress or confrontation.
Details matter. As much as you might think that the smaller details may not be important, you’ll find it hard to recall those details days later when you’re being asked about them. This would also be a good time to call our agency to let us know what has happened so we can begin to help you with the claims process.
Who Was Involved?
Among the things that you’ll want to make record of is who was involved in the accident. Gather the following information from all drivers, passengers, and witnesses involved:
- Complete name, address, phone number, and e-mail address
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers
- Note whether or not the driver is the owner of the vehicle, and if not, what his or her relationship is
- Their insurance company & policy number
- Everyone’s recollection as to what happened
What Were the Conditions?
You’ll also want to record the conditions of the accident scene. Was is sunny or cloudy? Was the pavement dry or wet? Were there any other details that could be a factor in the accident? You’ll also want to record where it happened, the street, which intersection, etc.
Probably the most helpful thing to document an accident is your camera. The majority of people today have a camera with them wherever they go, as it is a function of their cellphone. Take a lot of pictures of the scene of the accident from all angles. You should also take pictures of the damage caused to each of the cars involved, as well as any property damage such as signs, trees, fences, etc.
What Not To Do
Due to various reasons, some people may want to admit fault and offer you payment for damages. They will also likely ask that you agree not to report the accident. This is not a good idea. To begin with, it may be illegal due to state accident reporting requirements. More importantly, should there be a loss or injury that isn’t known at the time of the accident, your chances of a successful claim diminish greatly.
When it comes to sharing your insurance information with others, we advise you to provide them with the name of your insurance company, your policy number, and nothing more. Don’t share your limits, don’t sign anything except what is required by the police, and don’t admit any fault regardless of what you might think at that time.
Accidents do happen. And when they do, you will really appreciate having proper coverage, and a good agent that is there to help you. So if you’re unfortunate enough to have an accident, give us a call as soon as possible at 715-425-6721 and we’ll help you through the process of filing a claim, arranging a rental car if your policy provides for one, and getting your car into to the shop and back on the road as quickly as possible.