If you experience an accident, the first thing you should do is come to a stop. Whether that means moving to the side of the road or simply stopping right where you are, get the vehicle out of motion as soon as possible. While it is best to move out of the line of traffic, if possible, moving too far away from the point of collision could be viewed as a hit-and-run, so stopping quickly is always imperative.
Make sure everyone is okay.
Before worrying about the damage to your vehicle or trying to move too quickly after a collision, evaluate yourself, your passengers, and your pets for any sign of injury. If the collision was especially jarring, take extra precautions when moving around or exiting your vehicle. Impacts of this kind trigger adrenaline in the body, which is a pain inhibiting chemical that will not allow someone in shock to feel the full extent of their injuries. Take deep breaths and remain as calm as possible. Advise those inside your vehicle to do the same.
Call the police.
Whether the collision in which you are involved is large or small, call the police to file an official accident report. This will aid in protecting you from future insurance scams, such as feigned injury or exaggerated damage. When giving your report of the incident to the police, especially if you are partially or entirely at-fault, it may be tempting to exaggerate your recounting of what happened. This is dangerous, because officers are trained to notice inconsistencies in more than one witness’ stories. Stick to explaining all of the facts to the best of your ability. If the other driver decides to bend the truth, you may be questioned again. Repeating the truth as you remember it will always be easier than remembering a false version of the events. Reporting honestly about your accident is also advisable when you believe yourself to be at-fault. A citation is often a smaller price to pay than giving other drivers free reign to falsify claims they make against you. As a general rule, any time information is exchanged, be sure to file a report. If you are reading this after experiencing an accident where nobody involved filed a report, it may not be too late. Missouri law requires a police report to be filed if the accident results in injury, death, or property damage in excess of $500. If all parties involved neglect to file a report at the time of the accident, state law allows up to 30 days to do so.
If there is any visible damage to either vehicle, make sure to exchange insurance information and take pictures of the damage on all vehicles, if possible. This will help in proving the extent of the damage at the time it took place and make the claim process much more seamless.
Call your insurance company.
Contact your insurance company as soon as you reasonably can following an accident. This will help you to avoid potential scams later on and to get advice on the best way to proceed with your claim.