What to Do After a Car Accident in Missouri
What to Do After a Car Accident in Missouri
I’m a safe driver. It won’t happen to me.
Here’s the reality:
A car accident can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter how carefully you drive or how good your driving record is.
- In Springfield, Missouri alone, over 7,000 car crashes occured in 2018, according to the Springfield Police Department.1
- The Missouri Department of Transportation reports that over 900 people lost their lives in Missouri traffic accidents in 2018.2
- Between 2013 and 2017, national auto insurance losses totalled nearly $168 billion, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.3
While safe driving habits reduce your risk, you must also be prepared in the event that you have a car accident. Purchasing car insurance, for example, protects against the financial cost of a crash.4
Knowing what to do after an accident also increases the chance of a better outcome for yourself, your passengers and other drivers involved.
#1: Stay Calm
It’s one of the most important rules in any emergency: don’t panic.
Nobody expects to have a car accident. When it happens you’re likely to feel shocked and even angry if you think the other driver is at fault. You or other individuals may have injuries requiring medical attention.
Remember that becoming emotionally agitated means you’re more likely to make mistakes. It puts you at greater risk of saying or doing something inappropriate to other drivers, police officers or EMTs. You might also make costly errors when filing a claim with your insurance representative.
Above all else, avoid any type of aggression such as yelling, name-calling or physical violence.5 Focus on remaining courteous and providing accurate information to the appropriate individuals.
#2: Stay at the Scene
In the State of Missouri, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. Do not leave until law enforcement officers give you permission to do so.
- If necessary to avoid further accidents, move all damaged vehicles out of the roadway. Otherwise, do not move them unless permitted by law enforcement.
- Check for injuries and provide first aid if you are able. Call for an ambulance if necessary.
- Contact the police.
- If the weather is bad or if the accident occurs at night, warn other drivers using reflectors, flashlights or flares.6
#3: Exchange the Correct Information
All drivers involved in the crash must exchange the following information:
- Driver license number
- Vehicle identification number
- License plate number
- Name of insurance company
- Insurance policy number
This information is necessary for processing your insurance claim. Answer all police questions truthfully.6
#4: Watch What You Say to Other Drivers
Along with staying calm, be careful what information you share with others involved in the crash. There are several things you should NOT talk about with them:
- Don’t admit fault or accuse the other driver of anything. Don’t say “I’m sorry” or “That was my fault” even if you think you are the at-fault driver. Allow time for a full investigation to uncover all of the facts.
- Don’t say “I’m okay” or talk about how you feel. Even severe injuries may take a few hours, days or even weeks to show any noticeable symptoms. Get a medical exam to determine what injuries you have and what treatments you’ll need.
- Don’t tell the other driver what you were doing at the time of the accident.7
#5: Call the Police
In Missouri, you MUST report a car accident to the police if all of the following facts are true:
- The accident happened less than one year ago.
- The crash involved at least one uninsured driver.
- The accident caused more than $500 in property damage OR at least one person was injured or killed.6
You can go online to download a Missouri Vehicle Accident Report form in PDF format.8 You may also obtain a form from your insurance company or driver license bureau.
Here are some of the things you’ll need to tell police officers investigating your crash:
- The direction you were traveling
- Whether you were turning and whether you used a turn signal
- Any injuries you or your passengers suffered
- What you did immediately before and after the accident, to the best of your memory
- Avoid making assumptions about the other driver5
#6: Record Your Own Description of the Accident
Write down your own account of what happened. Do this as soon as possible, before your memory fades. You may write your description by hand, type it or make a voice recording.
- Date and time of the accident
- Address or approximate address where the crash occurred
- Road you were traveling on or the nearest cross street
- Direction you were traveling
- Direction the other driver(s) were traveling
- Weather conditions and visibility
- Other conditions such as road construction
- Names and contact information for any witnesses
- Names, badge numbers and contact information for responding police officers
If you have a camera, take pictures of the damage to your own car and the other driver’s vehicle. You may also sketch a diagram by hand.7
#7: Contact Your Insurance Company
The sooner you file an insurance claim, the more smoothly things will go in the aftermath of your accident.
- Contact your insurance company or agent from the scene of the accident if possible.
- The person you talk to will help you through the claims process.
- Give your agent the facts about your accident, and don’t engage in any further discussion.
- Provide the other driver’s insurance information to your agent. If the other driver was at fault, you may recover compensation from their insurer to help with the cost of medical treatments or car repairs.7
If your insurance company offers a digital app, download it to your device so you can file claims even more quickly.
If you’re not sure how to report an auto insurance claim, contact The Resource Center and we’ll help you get in touch with your agent. We can also help you choose the best auto insurance policy to meet your needs.9