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What to do if you find yourself in a car accident

As fall begins, more people are out on the roads traveling to vacation and holiday destinations, often consuming alcohol. As a result, the risk of motor vehicle crashes increases. According to Illinois law, all vehicles must be covered under an automobile insurance plan.

Never drive uninsured.

Follow the safety playbook: wear your seatbelt, make sure children are in the appropriate child restraint system, avoid distractions while driving, stay alert, drive defensively, and never drink and drive. But often despite your best efforts to remain safe, accidents can and do occur.

Things to keep in mind

So, what should you do if you are in an accident?

  • Never admit fault.
  • Stay on the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident has serious legal consequences, including fines and jail time.
  • If others are injured, call 911 and get help.
  • Notify law enforcement.
  • Exchange information with all other parties in the accident: name, address, vehicle registration number, license plate number, auto insurance policy number, and driver license information, if requested.
  • Get contact information from witnesses.
  • See a doctor immediately, and urge other passengers in the vehicle to do the same.
  • Call your car insurance company and complete an accident report.
  • File a police report if the accident causes damages of $1500 or greater.
  • Some accidents must be reported to the Illinois Department of Transportation within 10 days if the accident causes $500 or more in property damage, personal injury, or death. Failure to report may result in fines and incarceration.
  • If circumstances allow, take photographs of the scene.

Although being involved in an accident is often a traumatic experience, knowing what steps to take in the aftermath can bring you some comfort.

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