What to Do After a Car Accident in Fresno, California
You’re driving on a busy Fresno highway or a lonely back road when you feel a hard bump and hear the sickening sound of metal on metal. You’ve just had a car accident. It’s probably your most nerve-racking moment of the week, month, or year. But now is not the time to lose your head. Take a deep breath and…pull your car over to the side of the road if possible.
At Cost-U-Less Insurance, we know how stressful this situation can be. That’s why we offer the following steps for protecting your passengers and getting back on the road as soon and as safely as possible.
Make Sure Everyone is Safe
Pull your vehicle out of traffic if possible. If it’s even the least bit responsive, steer to the shoulder of the road or onto a quiet nearby side street. Now take a mental inventory of yourself and your passengers.
Does anyone look or act seriously injured? Don’t move anyone who might be hurt. Instead, immediately call 911. If no one is physically affected by the incident, get them safely out of the vehicle and to a safe place at the side of the road or as far from traffic as you can get them. Be especially careful if you’re with small children.
If you’re suspicious of the other party or it’s late at night and there isn’t much traffic around you, it might be a better decision to stay in your vehicle with doors locked and contact authorities.
Call the Police
Depending on where you are, the police might respond right away – or eventually. You want to receive an official police report even if you’re at fault for the accident (which you won’t admit to anyone at this time). If you’re in Fresno, either dial 911 or call the police department’s non-emergency number at (599) 621-7000. Make your decision as to which number you should call based on your sense of risk or urgency.
One reason you want the police to show up even for minor contact is that you might need a credible witness if the other driver or a passenger in that vehicle shows signs of neck or back injury. It could be legitimate, but it could also be someone exaggerating symptoms for a lawsuit that could involve you and your insurer. The police will be able to make an expert judgment of behavior. You’ll need to be able to show proof of insurance.
Your insurance company will also want to see a copy of a police report for the purpose of either covering your claim or getting the other party’s insurer to do so.
Exchange Contact Information With the Other Driver…Maybe
Assuming that the other party isn’t a hit-and-run driver or someone who immediately left the scene, try to exchange names, phone numbers, and insurance company information with them. The easiest way to get most of this information would be to take smartphone photos of each other’s driver’s licenses.
But again, if you feel that you should avoid the other party for any reason, trust your instincts!
Make a Record of the Accident
Take phone photos of the accident damage to your vehicle and the other driver’s damage and license plate. If you have the foresight to snap a few photos of a hit-and-run vehicle, that can be valuable, too.
Get a Copy of the Police Report
When the police arrive, answer all of their questions calmly and completely. Describe the accident as you remember it and get a copy of that all-import police report. This is what you’ll share with your insurance claims investigator.
Save Your Receipts
Depending on the condition of your vehicle, you might have to call for a tow truck and/or a cab or rideshare. If you or a passenger must be examined at a hospital or taken by ambulance, that too will involve unexpected costs.
Now is not the time for you to try to figure out what costs you can pass on to your insurance agent or the other party. Simply save each receipt from every transaction that can even be remotely tied back to your car accident. Let others help you sort out what’s important and what’s not – in less stressful times.
Contact Your Auto Insurance Company
You’ll want to take this important step just as soon as possible. Your insurance claims representative can help put your mind at ease and get you back on the road quickly.
If your coverage is through Cost-U-Less, simply call your Service Representative at (866) 505-6767. You’ll receive friendly and comprehensive step-by-step instructions for proceeding.
Prepare Ahead of Time
All of the advice up to this point has dealt with the steps you should take “in the heat of the moment,” so to speak. But there’s plenty you can do even before an accident to help you respond as smoothly and efficiently as possible if or when the time comes.
You’ll probably be rattled after you’ve had a car accident, even if it’s just a fender bender. So that’s not the ideal time to figure out websites and phone numbers. Make sure you post the non-emergency Fresno police phone number in your phone and either keep your car insurance company’s claims phone number in your phone or carry a business card in your purse or wallet.
It’s also critical that you have adequate car insurance so that your finances won’t be top of mind, even if your car is totaled.
You’ll notice that your smartphone plays a vital part in all of these steps, whether you’re using it as a phone, a camera, or as a directory for important numbers. So make sure you have this valuable tool with you at all times – and that it’s fully charged. If you’re taking a long trip, you should have your charger with you and the ability to recharge your phone in your car.
If you don’t have a dependable mobile phone, your job just got a lot more challenging. You might have to hope the other driver has a phone or wait for a police car to just happen to roll by. Don’t get caught in that position.
Call Cost-U-Less for Dependable Coverage Even in Stressful Times
At Cost-U-Less, we won’t just sell you car insurance. We’ll be there at times like this when you need us most. If you don’t already have Cost-U-Less coverage in Fresno, California, call an independent insurance agent today at (866) 505-6767 or get an online quote or one by phone.