TOPEKA, Kan. – Sept. 22, 2017 – Car crashes are unexpected and stressful events, leaving many drivers unsure of what steps to take following a collision. Although many motorists do their best to drive responsibly, nearly 6 million crashes occur each year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If drivers find themselves in a vehicle crash, AAA Kansas recommends a few important steps to take.
“Car crashes can happen to anyone, even careful drivers,” said Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman. “The moments following a collision can be overwhelming for motorists who may be unsure how to proceed. Knowing how to respond can help protect everyone involved in the incident.”
Making sure the vehicle is stocked with the right items will help keep the driver organized and ease some of the stress following a crash. Keep paper and pen, a cell phone and a copy of the insurance card in the glove box along with an emergency kit consisting of a flashlight and first-aid kit.
If involved in a crash, AAA Kansas recommends drivers follow these next steps:
- Assist the injured. Quickly check with those involved in the collision to determine if there are any injuries. If medical attention is needed, call 911. If medical attention is not needed, make sure you are not in imminent danger at the roadside.
- Control the scene. Before taking time to exchange information, get to a safe place. If there are no injuries and the vehicle is drivable, safely move to the emergency lane or a parking area. Some state laws require drivable vehicles be removed from the roadway to avoid traffic congestion. Turn on your hazard lights and set out warning flares or reflective triangles. Do not leave the scene of the crash, but find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive.
- Locate owner of unattended vehicle or property. If you are involved in a crash that involves an unattended vehicle or property, make sure to inform the owner. If you cannot locate the owner, attach a written notice of the collision to the vehicle or property, being sure to include your contact information and information listed above.
- Notify the police and submit a report. Depending on your state, the law may require you to notify the police. No matter what either party says, call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or insurance agency in the days after a crash. Having a report on file may help later if a liability claim is filed.
- Document the scene and exchange information. It is important to exchange and gather information with all parties involved in the crash, including witnesses. Having this on file will help complete any future paperwork or address potential problems. AAA Kansas suggests that you document:
- Addresses/email address
- Vehicle information including makes, models and years for all cars involved
- Vehicle identification/license plate numbers
- Driver’s license numbers
- Insurance carriers and policy numbers
- Use your cell phone to take photos of the location, people involved and damaged vehicles.
- Notify your insurance carrier. Inform your insurance carrier following a crash to start the proper claim filing process. Having proof of insurance in your vehicle is required by law and makes filing a claim easier. Also, it is important to keep your insurance company’s phone number and your policy number information in your cell phone.
- Get your vehicle repaired. Have your vehicle repaired at a body shop of your own choosing. In addition to facilities suggested by your insurance company, consider a quality AAA Approved Auto Body shop, which can be found by visiting www.AAA.com/autorepair.
“Car crashes take a tremendous toll on everyone involved, both financially and emotionally,” AAA Kansas’ Steward said. “Drivers must be prepared to assume legal and financial responsibility if involved in a crash, however, it is important to not let your emotions and feelings get in the way of deciding who is at fault. Prior to giving a statement to police, you can consult with an attorney if you have any questions.”
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