Accidents happen in a blur, and you may inadvertently give up important rights during the turmoil after the crash. These steps may protect your legal rights and safety at the accident scene.
Planning for car accidents will help you know what to do. First, keep important documents in an easily accessible location. These include vehicle registration, automobile insurance identification card and your insurance agent’s name. Also, have information on allergies and health conditions for you and your family and contact information for your doctors.
Emergency equipment such as flares, orange cones and signage can be helpful. Keep paper and a pen in your vehicle to record important information in case your smartphone runs out of power or does not work.
At the scene
Pull your vehicle to the side of the road if you can. First assure that all motorists and passengers in the crash are unhurt. Call 9-1-1 for any injuries, even minor ones.
It is illegal to leave the accident scene. If the other vehicle is unattended, try to find its owner. Leave a note with your name, address, and phone number. Record details such as the other vehicle’s make and model, and the address where the crash occurred.
Review any damages to the vehicles in the crash. Take pictures or video with your smartphone.
Contact police if anyone was hurt, there is property damage or serious damage to a vehicle. Obtain the officer’s name, badge number and the name of their agency. It is also important to ask how you can get a copy of their accident report.
Information gathering is essential. Get the names and contact information for everyone involved in the accident and, if possible, witnesses. Write down or photograph the vehicle registration and insurance ID card information for any other motorist involved in the crash and the make and model of their vehicle.
In addition to photographing documents, your smartphone may be used to photograph or record the accident location, including street names and weather conditions. Note the time and vehicle location.
You may also provide vehicle registration and your insurance ID card. Never apologize, admit any fault, or argue about the accident.
Even if the police do not come to the scene, file an accident report. This can help if the other driver files a suit for damages or injuries or you suffered more harm than you initially thought and if you file an insurance claim.
See your doctor as soon as possible if you suffered any injuries or feel any pain. Keep documentation of medical visits or injuries. Also, keep any documents pertaining to any repairs for your vehicle.
If you believe the crash is a road rage incident, be extra careful at the accident scene and while dealing with the other driver. If the other vehicle bumped into the rear of your car and you suspect a carjacking, pull off to a safe location. In both cases, contact the police.
Attorneys can help you throughout this process. They can help protect rights while you deal with police, insurance companies and other motorists.