What to do at the Scene of an Accident

We are now getting into the winter driving season, and that has some unfortunate side effects as the weather causes havoc on the roads. Auto accidents are a traumatic experience for everyone involved. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there were about 9.5 Million crashes reported in 2010 – that is a lot of bent metal. Whilst we really hope that you do not become one of those statistics, it is important to know what to do if you find yourself either involved in, or at the scene of an accident.

  • Calm down. This is easier said than done – your gut is wrenching and your instinct is to panic, but now is the time to be cool. Take a deep breath and calmly handle the situation.
  • Is everyone OK? Check for injuries in all of the involved vehicles. Call for a ambulance if there are any injuries.
  • Call the Police or CHP – even if it is a minor accident. If there are any injuries, let the police know.
  • Make the scene of the accident as safe as possible. Use flares, warning triangles and hazard lights to alert other drivers to the situation.
  • Do not admit blame – even if you think you were in the wrong. Avoid any argument about whose fault it was –it will not benefit you to get into that argument. Only discuss the details with the police and your insurance agent, and do not sign anything other than police documents.
  • Make notes, take pictures, and gather as much information as you can – including license plate numbers of all involved vehicles. Try to document the damage to all vehicles and property involved.
  • If possible, get names and addresses of all drivers, passengers and witnesses. If the driver is different from that stated on the insurance document, capture all the details like relationship between the driver and the insured.
  • Ask the police officer where you can get a copy of the accident report – this will help with your insurance claim.
  • Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible – they will help you with what to do next, including what to do with your vehicle.
  • Do not leave the scene of the accident until authorized by the police, and certainly not before the police report is finalized.

Once you have spoken with your insurance agent, call us at Art’s Bodycraft to start the collision repair process. Your insurance company may already have told you to call us since we are regularly at the top of their list of preferred Auto Body Shops in Palo Alto and the San Francisco Bay Area. We have been in the collision repair business for over 35 years, we have a great deal of experience of dealing directly with the insurance companies, and we’ll help you get you car back on the road as quickly as possible.