Auto accident preparedness

Legal Articles | February 1, 2016

Proactive planning can be very helpful to motorists after an accident occurs. Get tips on what to do at these times.

A driver in Chicago can easily become flustered and unsure of what to do after an accident happens, regardless of the cause. Being prepared ahead of time can go a long way toward making this time less confusing. It can also help when the time comes to address issues such as compensation.

The importance of an emergency kit

Carrying an emergency kit in a vehicle can help motorists have necessary items on hand in the event that a crash occurs. The Consumer Protection Association of America outlines some of the items that should be included in such a kit. Among them are the following:

• Flares or cones that can be used to alert other drivers about the accident scene

• Reflective gear that can be worn by drivers to make them more visible in dim or dark lighting

• Flashlights or headlights that can help drivers see better at night

Drivers can also turn on their hazard lights to assist in warning oncoming motorists. This is important whether or not vehicles can be safely moved to the side of the road or otherwise out of the flow of traffic. Keeping people safe and preventing additional car crashes from happening is the reason to have such things in an emergency kit.

Plan for medical emergencies

Tending to injuries should always be a priority in the wake of an accident. There is always a chance exists that drivers or passengers could be unconscious. For this reason, State Farm recommends that drivers keep records of some basic medical data for all family members. Having this information available can be especially important for people with medical conditions or allergies.

Getting all the details

Collecting information from all other drivers involved in a collision is essential. This should include identification and contact details for all drivers as well as passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists. Names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses are recommended to be exchanged between the parties.

It is equally important to document the make, model and license plate data for all automobiles or motorcycles. Names of insurance companies along with policy numbers should be recorded as well.

In addition to written information, visual data can help in the ensuing claims process. People are encouraged to use their mobile phones to take pictures of vehicles and even the road and accident area. It is also wise to have a disposable camera in emergency kits in case a crash damages a phone.

Next steps

Once safely able to leave an accident scene, drivers should take the details they collected and use them appropriately. In some cases, this including filing an accident report. The Illinois State Patrol notes that any crash resulting in personal injury or death requires an accident report to be filed. If any driver involved does not have insurance and only property damage results, a report must still be filed if that damage is greater than $500. When all drivers are insured, the threshold increases to $1,500. The Illinois Department of Transportation explains that reports must be filed within 10 days and can be submitted in person, by mail or online.

Contacting an attorney should also be on the list of things to do after an accident. There are many things that can stand in the way of victims receiving the compensation they deserve. Securing legal help promptly is recommended for this reason.