By Henry Bagdasarian
I thought about the benefits of a car accident information checklist a while back when a car hit my car from behind while driving on a local street. Luckily, I was still conscious following the accident and was able to interact. So I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen along with my wallet where I keep my driver’s license and car insurance card to start exchanging accident details with the other car driver. The other driver wasn't seriously hurt either so we were able to exchange information about each other and the accident.
We exchanged our driver’s license and insurance card information. The information I extracted from both of her documents included her name, driver’s license number, insurance carrier, and insurance policy number and the information I gathered from my observation included her car model and license plate number. A pen, piece of paper and even a camera are really useful during car accidents and even though I didn't need a camera in this case, the pen and paper really made it quick and easy to gather the accident related information. In these cases, an accident information checklist could not only ensure we gather all of the information that are needed for insurance claims but it can also be used to gather accident witness information and accident description, especially for severe and complicated accident cases.
I remember an accident I had years ago when I used a camera to capture the information I needed. I was on the extremely congested 405 freeway in California when the accident occurred. Those who are familiar with the 405 know that it’s always rush hour and congested regardless of the time of the day so even a brief stop on this highway can make the impatient and angry drivers snap or force us to pull aside by the highway patrol within minutes. While driving northbound, a car hit me from behind with a very low speed because of the never-ending traffic. Since the accident was mild and we did not have to immediately exchange accident information or wait for the police, I pulled out my camera and asked the driver to smile for a picture. I took his picture while he was still behind his steering wheel and surprised at what I was up to. I then gave him my business card and told him to call me later for information exchange. I also took a quick picture of the license plate of his car. Although he called me the same day to provide me with his information, I could have reported the accident to the police as I had captured his license plate number and his car’s position with regards to mine with a picture.
The point I want to make is you need to adjust the strategies for gathering and exchanging accident information depending on the accident cases. You don’t want to share excessive and unneeded information with the other party such as your social security number or mother’s maiden name, as you don’t want to gather any less than needed information to submit your accident case and get reimbursed for all your accident expenses. I specially thought about the accident information exchange when my insurance company asked me about the other driver's home address and her date of birth. Although this information was readily available on her driver’s license, I had failed to collect this information because I didn't immediately think about it.
That’s why I decided to create this accident checklist and I suggest you print and keep a copy of this accident information checklist in your car along with a pen, a camera, copy of your car insurance, registration card, and drivers’ license for a rainy and hopefully rare accident day to ensure you collect all the necessary and required information:
Other Driver’s Information
First Name –
Last Name –
Home Address (Taken from the driver’s license and confirmed with driver) –
Date of Birth (Taken from the driver’s license)-
Drivers’ License Number –
Car Make and Model (i.e., 2004 Black Toyota Camry)-
License Plate Number –
Insurance Carrier –
Insurance Policy Number –
Contact phone Number –
Describe and/or draw the accident as it occurred:
a) date of accident –
b) location where the accident occurred -
c) which car hit which car –
d) how did it happen -
e) which part of the car was hit (rear, side) –
f) immediate car damage observations -
Driver A Signature Driver B Signature
Accident Witness Information
Phone Number –
Statement or agreement with accident description –
Witness signature –
a) document the obvious reasons why the accident happened such as passed the red line, drunk driver or on the phone –
b) notice any immediate health observations such headache or back and leg pain –
And remember, it's very important to write down all the information as soon as you get home or work following the accident because you may not remember the details later. Also, it's possible that the other person refuses to sign the checklist because of disagreements with your documented accident information which is totally OK. But you should still document the details of the accident for future reference.
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