It’s been more than 100 years since Irish poet Oscar Wilde warned us to expect the unexpected, and these words of wisdom feel truer today than ever before.
No one expects to have a car accident, yet according to a 2018 report from the Arizona Department of Transportation, your chances of being in a collision are about 1.7%, almost 2 licensed drivers out of every 100.
Being on the road means you can’t eliminate the risk of an accident. You can, however, arm yourself with knowledge so you know what to do in the case of an accident.
We recommend bookmarking or printing this checklist. It’s a helpful reference to know what to do (and not to do). It presents a step-by-step approach that makes sure your interests are protected, regardless of who is at fault.
Things You Should Do at the Scene of the Accident in Arizona
- Remain calm, don’t panic, and don’t yell at anyone.
- Don’t admit fault. This includes an apology, which can be perceived as an admission of guilt.
- Make sure no one is injured. Call an ambulance if anyone needs medical attention.
- Call the police, especially if there are injuries, serious property damage, or a fatality. Even a minor collision warrants a call to the police. Let them decide if they need to be on the scene to document the accident. (If the police don’t come, we recommend filing a police report yourself, which you can even do online in cities like Phoenix).
- Get your vehicle and passengers to safety and out of traffic, but don’t leave the scene. If you have to go a short distance to move your car to a safe place, make sure you go back to the original scene right away.
- Turn on your vehicle’s flashers or hazard lights, especially if it is still on the roadway.
- Document any damage with photos, videos, or written notes.
- Get contact information from the other party, including name, insurance information (including policy number), and phone number.
- If there are witnesses, talk to them and get their contact information.
- Do not sign any documents unless the police provide them.
- Stay at the scene until the police say it is okay and the other driver(s) have left.
What to Do After You Leave the Scene
You might have wondered at what point you should contact your insurance company. We suggest waiting until after you’ve left the scene and had a chance to process and digest what happened.
Here are the steps to take after you’ve left the scene:
- Contact your insurance company and relay everything that happened. Remain objective and state the facts of the incident. Remember that your insurance company is on your side, and they want to help.
- If there is a copy of the accident report, you can request it, though your insurance company is likely to do this as well. However, it’s helpful to have if you want to review it for completeness and accuracy.
- Take notes about any injuries or new pain you’re experiencing. Also, document your mood and any drastic changes to your emotions or mental state. If you have an injury preventing you from doing something that’s part of your routine, then document that as well.
- Get medical treatment and document all expenses, prescriptions, and time spent seeking treatment.
- Get an assessment of the property damage. Your insurance company will typically send out an assessor.
- You may want to contact a personal injury lawyer if you have any concerns about being compensated for your damages and having your rights protected.
An initial consultation is typically free, and most car accident attorneys in Arizona work on a contingency, meaning they only get paid when you get paid.