Be organized after an auto accident

I have a friend who has unfortunately been involved in two car accidents recently. When the accidents occurred, she was obviously disoriented and under a great deal of anxiety. Days later, after being able to think about what had happened, she wished that she would have been more organized during the events. After both accidents, she realized that she had forgotten to write down important information like the license plate numbers of the other cars.

Wanting not to be caught off guard again, she created a worksheet to keep in the glove compartment of her car in the same folder as her insurance card and registration. (If you do not have Adobe Reader, you can download it here.) This is a situation when being organized can help you greatly.

Also, she recommends carrying a small, digital camera with you to photograph the scene. A disposable camera in your glove compartment could function the same purpose if you aren’t in the habit of carrying a small camera with you.

Now, let us hope that you never have to use this worksheet! If you do, however, rest assured that you’ll be organized and you won’t forget to gather any important information.

11 Comments for “Be organized after an auto accident”

  1. posted by Ed Eubanks Jr. on

    As for the camera: the low-quality digital cameras built into most mobile phones these days serve this purpose adequately. In fact, it is the only rationale for having/using such cameras that I can conceive of, given their poor quality and general lack of features. (I’m always shocked to see people using these at graduations, for vacation photos, etc.)

  2. posted by Andrea on

    My insurance company used to give out a similar worksheet. I’ve been involved in several accidents over the years and they have made all the difference! If you can’t recall the details to support your story, you’re done. They also included a “what to do in an accident” card which I followed when I was too rattled to think straight. Again, it was an enormous help.

  3. posted by mamacita on

    I hate to be the resident obsessive-compulsive, but somebody has to do it: on the worksheet, could you change “License Place Number” to “License Plate Number?” I’ll go back to counting the number of tiles in my ceiling now ;-)

  4. posted by Janice on

    Another tip is to write down the license plate numbers of other drivers on scene who may have witnessed the accident — even if you are not able to get their names. This was recommended by the officer investigating my accident where the other driver’s story started to change. The police can follow up with these drivers if needed to confirm the sequence of events.

  5. posted by Erin at Unclutterer on

    @mamacita–The typo has been fixed.

  6. posted by Erin at Unclutterer on

    @Janice–There is a place on the form to collect data from witnesses

  7. posted by Chris on

    Since I have a hipsterPDA, it was very helpful when I got rear ended on the daycare run to school, and even gave the person who hit me some cards to write down my contact information on.

    I also keep a disposable camera in the car in case there’s damage. I’d recommend swapping a new camera out on occasion just to make sure the film is good. I’ll use the camera in a pinch when visiting with friends and replace it with a fresh one at my next visit to the store.

  8. posted by Luc-Rock Paquin on

    The Insurance Bureau of Canada also offers a Collision Report Form (

    Personally, I really like the Quebec version, which is called a “Joint Report” (

  9. posted by Brianna on

    I would recommend to add a section for weather conditions. It can be helpful to know if it was raining or sunny and also to know if you were driving towards the sun (which can cause a glare).

  10. posted by Amy on

    I think the camera is a great idea. I had an accident and forgot my phone had a camera on it and did not get much needed pictures. I read that you should get out of the traffic as soon as possible, but it should have said “as soon as pictures are taken.” Trust me!

  11. posted by Michael on

    My insurance company used to give out similar worksheets, complete with a place to draw a sketch of an intersection and guidelines to help you draw it. It is a shame that they don’t produce such work anymore.

    However, as I learned in an accident, make sure you do two things:
    1. Call the police. They are the only ones who can file and actual report, and even without a report they are definitely a uninterested third party that either insurance company can contact. This may vary from state to state though.
    2. Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. They are invaluable because otherwise it’s your word against theirs.

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