The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts report states that in 2007 there were 6,024,000 police reported motor vehicle traffic crashes. 1,711,000 of those crashes involved injuries and 37,248 involved fatalities. If you are involved in an accident, chances are you will be shaken up, so it’s best to know what to do beforehand.
Don’t Leave The Scene
Don’t panic. The first step to protecting yourself is to not leave the scene of an accident. You may face criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident. However, if you are bumped by another car in a deserted area, you should drive to the nearest police station or dial 911 on your cell phone instead of stopping. There have been reports of people hitting another car in a deserted area to get them to pull over to be robbed or killed. Move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic if it is in a dangerous spot.
Check For Injuries
If anyone has been injured, call for an ambulance. Never move an injured person unless they are in danger where they are.
Call The Police
Even if the accident is minor and there are no injuries, it’s important to have to police come to the scene and file a full police report. In some locations police will not respond to an accident unless there are injuries involved, in which case you can file an accident report at the police station. In these cases you can usually download the proper forms from your Department of Motor Vehicles website.
Not only should you get information from the other driver, but you should also get as much information as you can from any witnesses. You should be courteous with the other driver, but do not admit fault. Oftentimes, people are shaken up at the scene of an accident and it’s even possible there were other factors at play that you aren’t aware of. Only state the facts to anyone at the scene.
The information you should collect from the other drivers includes:
- Driver’s License and License Plate Numbers
- Insurance Information
- Year, Make and Model of All Cars Involved
You should copy the driver’s license and insurance information directly off of their paperwork to ensure there are no mistakes.
The information you should collect from any witnesses includes:
- Telephone Numbers
- E-mail Addresses
You should also take pictures of the accident, or if you don’t have a camera make sketches. Make notes about everything you observe, including weather, road conditions, any statements you hear others make or even any indication that the other driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Report the Accident To Your Insurance Company
You should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you can, possibly even while you are still at the scene. The length of time you have to report the accident varies by insurance company, so be sure to report it before the specified time for your insurance carrier.
Keep Track of All Expenses
If you sustained injuries keep records of all doctor visits, physical therapy, work missed or any other expenses related to your injury.
A car accident can be a scary, or even traumatic, event. Knowing what to do before it happens can help protect you from further injury or even legal consequences.
This article is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact an attorney in your local area for more information about car accidents.