You are driving home from work after a busy day speeding down the road when, all of a sudden, another car pops out of nowhere right in front of you so you slam on the brakes, but it’s too late and your vehicles smash together. Now what?
Stop the car. You don’t want to make an accident worse by leaving the scene. Aside from it being morally and ethically wrong, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime.
Make sure everyone is okay and that no one has suffered an injury.
Call the police. In Oregon, you must call the police if:
- Damage to any vehicle is over $2,500.00 (these days almost any damage would be above this threshold);
- Any vehicle is towed from the scene;
- An injury or death resulted from the accident; or,
- Damage to anyone’s property other than a vehicle involved in the accident is more than $2,500.00.
Exchange information. You should exchange the following information:
- Phone number;
- Insurance company and policy number;
- Driver’s license number;
- License plate number; and,
- Make, model and color of the car.
If there were passengers in the car you should get their names and contact information as well.
Photograph and document the accident. Use your cell phone camera to take photos of the overall scene of the accident from each side, of the overall context of the accident, and the damage to each vehicle.
If you are injured you should immediately go to the emergency room if your injuries warrant it, or make an appointment as soon as possible with your primary care physician or an urgent care facility.
Call your insurance company. You will need to tell them what happened and if you, and/or any of your passengers, were hurt in the crash. This will get the claims process started and will likely speed up the time it takes to begin receiving any insurance benefits.
Within 72 hours of any crash you must submit an Oregon Traffic Accident Report to the DMV. These forms must be submitted if any of the factors in step 2 are met. If you fail to submit the Accident Report the DMV may suspend your license.
Keeping these steps in mind following a car crash will make the insurance claim aspect of your accident much smoother and will assist in holding all drivers accountable.