Checklist: What to Do If You’re Involved in a Car Accident

These simple steps show you how to be calm, safe and prepared if you have a traffic collision

Article

5 minute read

2020-11-13

On average, there are around 7,000 car accidents every day in Germany. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of these are minor collisions. But no matter if it’s just a little bump or something more serious, there are a few important steps you should follow after an accident. To give a quick overview of everything you need to do after an accident, we’ve made a handy checklist. Simply download it or print it and keep it in your car to make sure you don’t forget anything.

In this article, you’ll find out what to do after an accident, which important items you should keep in your car and what you need to tell your insurer.

The comprehensive accident checklist for car drivers

Safety first

The first thing you should do after an accident is assess the situation. Stay calm and check if you or anyone else involved in the accident are injured. If there are no serious injuries, switch your hazard lights on, put on your high-visibility jacket and carefully leave the vehicle. You should then place your hazard triangle 50 to 100 metres from the scene of the accident to warn other drivers. If someone is injured, phone the emergency services on 112 to get medical assistance. Try to describe the situation as accurately as you can and follow the advice over the phone.

Speak to the police

In most cases, you should phone the police after an accident. You must phone the police in the following situations:

  • Someone is injured
  • There is considerable damage
  • You cannot agree on who is to blame for the accident
  • More than two cars were involved
  • The other driver flees from the scene
  • You suspect the other driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • If you have a collision with a parked car and cannot find the owner

You should try to give the police a full and accurate description of the accident. The police will gather as much information as possible so they can create a complete picture of the accident. This will help determine who is liable later on.

Strictly speaking, you do not have to phone the police if you have a minor bump and none of the above apply. However everyone involved in the accident must agree that the police are not necessary. Even if the police are not there, you must still take care to gather as many details as you can. You will need to share this information with your insurer after the accident.

Gathering evidence to support your claim

To clear up the question of who is liable and how much damage occured, your insurer will require lots of information from you. You should therefore take photos of the scene of the accident from different perspectives. Photos of license plates, damage to vehicles and skid marks are especially useful. If there are any witnesses, you should also take their contact details as they may be able to support your insurance claim.

What if you crash into a parked vehicle?

Collisions with parked cars are very common – especially if you live in the city. But how can you exchange details if the car’s owner isn’t there? It’s not enough to just leave an apology note. In fact, if you simply drive away, you are committing a “hit and run” offence. According to the law, you should wait at least 30 minutes for the driver to return to the vehicle. If the owner of the car does not show up, you should always phone the police.

Making a claim

Last but not least, you should inform your car insurer that you have had an accident. To make sure your claim is processed as quickly as possible, you should speak to your insurer on the same day if possible. You should do this within one week – even if you agree with the other driver that their insurer will handle the claim. By informing your insurer, you can be covered in case it later turns out that you were partly to blame.

Well prepared on the road: What should you keep in your car

The essentials

According to German law, you need to have your driving license, vehicle registration certificate and proof of car insurance with you when driving. If your car is fitted with any modifications or aftermarket parts, you also need to have your type approval certificate with you – which is good to know if you like to tinker with your motor.

You also need to have a hazard triangle, first-aid kit and at least one high-visibility jacket in your car at all times. Not only are these items essential if you have an accident, but you can be fined if you don’t have them. Although not required by law, a spare tyre and some basic tools like jump leads and portable battery, a tyre jack, a pressure gauge and duct tape can be really useful.

Other useful items

Because you never know when and where you might have an accident, it’s best to prepare for all seasons. We recommend keeping a torch, gloves, ice scraper, window cleaning cloth, a pair of sunglasses and a rain jacket in your car. Some drinking water and non-perishable food is never a bad idea either: you’ll thank yourself if you are stranded for a longer amount of time.

Always be prepared

Download our free accident checklist and keep it in your glove box – so you’ll never be caught out when on the road.

Author: Tom