Involvement in a car accident can be incredibly stressful. You’re unnerved, you feel scattered, and it’s hard to think straight. While your first priority should always be safety, you’re going to need to take some steps to document what has happened for both legal and insurance purposes. This will help both the police and your insurance company determine who was at fault and who will be responsible for paying for any needed repairs. The best way to make sure you collect all information about the accident and driver is to have an accident kit in your car. So, what needs to be included in this kit?
A Cell Phone
You probably already have a cell phone that you carry regularly. But, if you don’t, you should get a small cell phone you can keep in the car for emergencies – especially on long trips. You’ll need to make sure it is charged regularly, but you’ll be glad you have it if you’re ever in an accident or find yourself stranded alone. Most insurance companies now offer free apps for your smartphone that, when needed, take you through a step-by-step documentation of an accident. Download the app now.
Pen and Paper
It sounds simple and silly, but a pen and paper are critical. You need them to jot down notes about the accident location, the parties involved, insurance information, and any other critical notes about the incident you may need to remember in the future. If you aren’t sure what to write, look to see if your insurance company or roadside assistance company has given you an accident report form. If not, you can find them online. It’s best to print out a copy and keep it in your car.
In addition, make sure you write down the names and contact information for any witnesses at the scene as well.
While many cell phones now have cameras, you shouldn’t rely only on your phone for taking pictures of the accident scene. Disposable cameras can still be purchased, are relatively inexpensive, and will keep when safely stored in your glove compartment. Even if you use your phone, use the camera as back-up to take a picture of the accident scene, the location of the cars (if they weren’t moved for safety reasons), and the damages. You only get one chance to document the accident.
A small glove box accident kit should also include a flashlight, in case the accident occurs at night, and flares or warning triangles, which you can use to make the accident scene more visible until emergency personnel arrive.
Store your accident kit in the glove box of your car. While you may never need it, you’ll be glad you have it if you do.