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What to do after a car accident

No one expects to be in a car accident, but it can happen to anyone. When it does, you need to know what to do at the scene.

Two cars that have just collided in an accident

1. Prioritize safety

  • Remain calm and assess the situation
  • Turn on your hazard lights
  • If you aren't injured and only if it's safe to do so, drive your car to the side of the road and out of the way of traffic. However, if the crash is more severe or if anyone is hurt, leave vehicles where they are.
  • Are you or anyone injured? It's important not to move if you don't feel safe, and don't move others who appear to be injured. If there are injuries, even minor ones, call 9-1-1 for help.

2. Contact the police/authorities

It's important to contact the police - even for minor accidents. Filing a police report after a car accident documents the details of the accident and ensures that all parties are protected if there's a lawsuit. A police report is also helpful when filing an auto insurance claim. Try to get a copy of the accident report from the officer.

Depending on the details you provide about the accident, an officer may not be dispatched to the scene. If the police don't feel it's necessary to go out to the accident site, you can generally request a copy of the report from the police station.

3. Exchange information

  1. The minimum information you should collect from the other driver is name, address, and phone number
  2. License plate number
  3. Insurance information, including the auto policy number and insurance company's phone number

4. Take pictures of the scene

Be sure to document the entire scene of the accident. Take photos of the

  • Vehicle damage
  • Property damage
  • License plates
  • Location markers
  • People involved

You should also try to capture other important details like

  • Weather and conditions of the roads at the time of the accident
  • Traffic signs
  • Mile markers, etc.

Taking pictures can also help you to recall the details of the incident when submitting your insurance claim and can help the adjuster re-create the accident.

5. Limit communication

While you must talk to the other driver to exchange information, you want to make sure to avoid

  • Admitting fault
  • Making accusations
  • Apologizing

In some states and situations, simple saying, “I'm sorry” could be considered an admission of legal liability.

Don't discuss the accident in detail with parties other than your insurance company or until you have consulted with an attorney (if needed). After an accident, it's better to focus on what needs to be done and leave the fact gathering to the experts.

6. File a claim with your insurance company

After a car accident, you'll want to file an auto insurance claim as soon as possible. The sooner you call, the sooner your claim can be processed and the better protected you'll be if the other driver claims undocumented injuries or damages. At Liberty Mutual you can file your claim with our app, online, or over the phone.

Does your auto insurance policy include roadside service? If it does, speak with your insurance company or adjuster about getting your vehicle towed to a repair facility - if that is what you need.

7. Contact your state's DMV

In addition to contacting your auto insurance company after an accident, you may also need to file an accident report with your state's DMV.

Keep in mind that because each state has its own laws and regulations, it's best to check with the DMV of the state where the crash occurred to determine what information they'll need you to provide. Some states also place a time limit on reporting an accident, so you'll want to know what that is as well.

8. Consult with an attorney

If the accident has resulted in significant damage or injuries, and if there are multiple parties involved, you may want to contact your attorney who can help you navigate the legal process.

If you're a Liberty Mutual customer, you can file a claim online in 10 minutes or less.

If you were in an accident with a Liberty Mutual customer, you can file a 3rd party claim online and we'll contact you if more information is needed.

You could save up to 12% when you buy customized car insurance online

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Please note: Information presented on this page is intended to be general information about insurance and is not specific to Liberty Mutual policies. Policies and coverages vary by state and insurer. Contact your insurance company to understand specifics regarding your policy and coverages.