- If possible, stop your car in a safe and visible place. If the car cannot be moved, turn on the hazard lights. Turn off the ignition. Be careful exiting your car.
- Determine if anyone is injured. Do not move an injured person.
- Call the police (911 in most places) immediately. Report any injuries.
- Take pictures of any damage on your car and the other driver’s car.
- If another vehicle is involved, get the car’s year, make, model and license plate number; the driver’s name, address and license number; and the name of his or her insurance company. If the driver does not own the car, get the name of the car’s owner. Write down names and addresses of other passengers or witnesses.
- Write down the names and badge numbers of police and emergency personnel at the scene. Ask the officer how to obtain a copy of the police report for your insurance claim.
- If you suspect that the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, ask that a breath test be performed on you and the other driver.
- Cooperate with the police, but do not admit guilt for the accident in any way. You may be required to show proof of insurance, but do not reveal how much coverage you have.
- Do not accept any money the other driver may offer. By accepting money, you may give up your right and the insurance company’s right to file a claim against the other driver, even if the damages turn out to be more extensive than you first thought.
- Do not agree to forget about a minor accident. You may see later that there were hidden damages or injuries. The other person may even file a lawsuit against you.
- Write an account of what happened: time of day, weather, hazards, road conditions and driving speed. Draw a picture of the site, showing stop signs, signal lights, etc. Try to measure skid marks and determine the point of impact. Note any damage already on other cars involved. If a camera is available, take pictures of the accident. Make copies of the pictures.
- Report the accident to your insurance agent or company as soon as possible.
Financial responsibility after an accident
Regardless of fault, an accident report must be filed with the Iowa DOT’s Office of Driver Services within 72 hours if an accident results in bodily injury, death or total property damage of $1,500 or more. However, you will not be required to file a personal accident report if the accident was investigated by a law enforcement agency and the investigating officer files a report.
If you cause personal injury or damage exceeding $1,500 to the other party, you must next prove your financial responsibility. Otherwise, your license will be suspended.
You can prove financial responsibility in one of these ways:
- Show that you are covered by automobile liability insurance at the time of the accident.
- Post cash, cashier’s check, certified check, bank draft or postal money order payable to the Office of Driver Services.
- Get releases from all other damaged or injured parties.
- Obtain a decision resulting from a civil damage action relieving you of all liability.
- File an agreement to pay the other damaged or injured parties on an installment plan.
- Execute a warrant for confession of judgment which includes an agreement upon payment schedule.
- File evidence of a complete settlement of all damages or injuries.
Owner and driver liability
Both owner and driver of the vehicles involved in an accident must prove their financial responsibility. This means if you owned the vehicle involved in an accident but were not driving it at the time, you would still have to show financial responsibility by using one of the ways already discussed. Otherwise, you would lose all your registrations. The driver of your vehicle would also have to show financial responsibility or lose all licenses to operate motor vehicles.
Proof of financial responsibility after an accident is not needed in these cases:
- Your vehicle was legally stopped, standing or parked.
- Your vehicle was driven without your permission.
- No damage occurred to any person or property other than yourself