You are minding the rules of the road when you get rear-ended; now the scattered fragments of your bumper are decorating the pavement. No one likes fender benders or car crashes, but if you find yourself in an accident, there are things you can do to make the process as painless as possible for filing a claim.
Before you hit the road:
• Drive with a cell phone in case of a need to place an emergency call.
• Carry insurance information in your glove compartment, as well as a pen and pad of paper for taking down information.
• Carry a disposable camera in your car, to take pictures of the crash site and vehicles involved. If there is incriminating evidence of distraction on the other driver (e.g. a full Dunkin Donuts breakfast splayed all over his/her clothes due to the crash), try to discreetly snap a picture. These will be very helpful in determining fault in the accident. DO NOT get the pictures developed as this may destroy their legal integrity. Keep the pictures in the camera and contact your insurance company.
Obtain the following information at the crash site:
• Information about the other driver: name, address, driver’s license number, insurance information and license plate number. • Information about witnesses: names, addresses and, whenever possible, license plate numbers. • Information about police officers: obtain the name, badge number and precinct number of the investigating office and request the case control number or accident report number. • Information about the location: precisely determine the address or location of the crash scene and note information about traffic, weather and road conditions. If the configuration of the roadway played a factor, note that information as well. • Information about the car accident: write down how the accident happened including fault, layout of the roadway, presence of traffic control devices, etc
Taking these steps will provide valuable information to the insurance company and help facilitate your claim settlement.
And of course, make sure that you are around to do these things. ALWAYS WEAR A SEATBELT!