What to do if you are in a car accident
Stop – Prevent Other Accidents
You are required to stop if you are involved in an accident. Keep traffic conditions in mind when you do so. Do whatever you can to protect others from having similar accidents.
Help the Injured
Remain calm. Call for help. They can be on the way while you assess the situation. If you are qualified to render first aid, do so. Remember, moving someone who is injured can cause more harm than good. If you are hurt wait for medical assistance.
Call the Police
Call 911. You are required to report accidents involving personal injury to the local police. Cooperate with the police at the scene. Provide them with the basic facts. You are not required to offer your opinion about who was at fault. Get the name and badge number of officers involved in the investigation of the accident. Get their report number. If serious personal injury is involved – call an attorney as soon as possible.
After doing the above, there are certain things that should be done in order to assist the injured to document his/her case. In an accident involving serious personal injury, the insurance company for the person or company that caused the accident will usually have an insurance investigator taking witness statements and preparing their legal defense as early as an hour after the accident. The injured person would be best advised to seek out legal advice as soon possible. With this in mind, there are certain preliminary actions that you should take.
At the Scene
- Do not discuss the details of the accident with anyone other than the police.
- Identify the other Driver – Ask to see his/her driver’s license and registration. Write down their name, address, registration number, Insurance Company name and home/work phone numbers. Write down the make and model of the cars involved. This is not the time to win verbal battles. Remember, anything you say will be repeated and will probably be admissible in Court.
- Obtain the name, address and home/work phone numbers of any witnesses that you believe observed any part of the accident.
- If there are any photographers from local newspapers it is important to arrange to get a copy of their photos.
- Get the names and address and work/home phone numbers of any other persons who were in the vicinity who took photos or videotaped any portion of the accident or its aftermath.
- Look around. Note the time, weather conditions, road conditions and any traffic controls in the area (especially those that are temporary).
- Look on the ground for skid marks. Measure them as best you can (at least pace them off). Note where the cars collided and where they stopped.
- Draw a diagram of the accident and keep it in a safe place.
- Try to assess if the driver of the other car was drinking or appears in any way intoxicated. Look for empty bottles or cans. Call this to the attention of the police at the scene.
- Take a look at the condition of the other car’s tires.
- Try to note if there were any malfunctioning lights or fluid leakage.
- Look inside the other car to see if anything possibly distracted the driver (DVD players, car phones, food wrappers, cell phones).
- Call anything you think important to the attention of the investigating officer.
After the Accident
- Again, do not discuss the details of the accident with anyone.You may get phone calls from insurance companies asking for your “statement”. Their insurance company isn’t there to help you. They want to save money. In the event that their coverage is not enough to compensate you for your injuries you will be presenting what is called an “underinsured claim” to your own insurance company. Anything you say to anyone could be admissible in Court.
Don’t speak to or write anything down for anyone until you consult an attorney.
- Obtain a copy of the policy report regarding the accident.
- Have someone photograph your injuries as soon as possible.
- Have someone photograph the scene of the accident as soon as possible.
- Secure the vehicle or product involved in the accident.
- Get photographs or video tapes from any person in the area.
- Retain a copy of all documents that were signed by you or obtain a copy of all documents signed by you.
- File the appropriate accident reports after consulting with an attorney.
Get Medical Treatment
- Serious medical injuries are not always visible at the time of the accident. Too often accident victims awake to severe pain. Seek medical treatment immediately and continue treatment.
Report Your Accident
- If required, you should report your accident to the local police and your insurance company. Do not give a recorded statement – written or taped – until you have consulted an attorney.
This is by no means a definitive list of actions to be taken. You should consult an attorney as soon as possible in order to determine your rights. It would be wise to consult with an attorney who has experience in handling personal injury cases. You may contact my office at (617) 996-2500 or fax us at (954) 252-3818.