We’ve had our fair share of customers involved in fender benders. If you’ve ever been in a motor vehicle accident, whether minor or major, you know how terribly upsetting it can be. It’s extremely challenging to think straight since your mind is racing at what appears light speed, and there’s no shortage of important things to remember. To that end, we felt it would be a good idea to provide clear instructions on what to do if your vehicle happens to be involved in a collision.
First and foremost, you should always stop. Never leave the scene of an accident, as doing so is considered a crime – even if you didn’t cause the accident. Hit and run penalties are fairly severe, possibly resulting in steep fines, loss of your Michigan driver’s license, or even jail time.
Your jurisdiction may require that you try to help someone who is injured by calling for help or performing first aid if you are able. Warn other motorists by putting out flares, using your flashers, or lifting your hood. Call 911 (in the event of an emergency) as soon as possible, or call the proper law enforcement in the event of non-emergency. Tell the operator if medical or fire help is needed.
Always file a police report. It’s tempting to skip this if everything seems to be “OK.” But without a police report, the other person can say whatever they want about the accident later, and you’ll not have an objective report to help defend yourself. Discuss the accident only with the police. Emotions are strong and we naturally want to talk about it – don’t. Never admit fault or guilt to anyone, including the police officer. Sometimes we may feel at fault, but in the eyes of the law, the other person is responsible.
Truthfully give the officer the facts: such as “I was going forty miles an hour” not “I wasn’t speeding”. Remember, anything you say to the officer or anyone else can be used against you.
Also, get the officer’s name and ID number and ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.
Get the facts on the driver and owner of the other vehicle:
- Phone number
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license number and expiration
- Insurance information
Take down a clear description of the other vehicle, license plate, and VIN (vehicle identification number). Most auto insurance companies in Michigan don’t record license plate numbers, so the VIN is the best way to track the vehicle.
Ask witnesses, including passengers, to wait for the police. If they can’t wait, ask for contact information and request that they write a brief description of what they saw. If someone refuses to leave their name, write down their license plate number so the police can follow up later, if necessary. Always call your insurance agent or your insurance company. Call or see a physician if you think you may have been injured.
Depending on the severity of the damage to your vehicle, you may require consultation with a certified body repair shop. We’re happy to refer a few of the local partners we’ve used over the years, in hopes doing business with them will help remove the burden of logistics. We understand working through the process following a collision can be very intimidating. Rest assured, we’ve established relationships with preferred providers in Grand Rapids that we know well and trust will take excellent care of you and your situation.
Should your vehicle benefit from mechanical repairs/service, of course we’d be delighted to have the opportunity to serve you. Our goal is to professionally expedite treatment and return you safely to the roads, where it is our hope you will confidently and defensively transition back into your regular commute.
- How Accidents Affect Insurance (articles.onlineautoinsurance.com)