Auto Accident Guide
Your Personal Injury Case Begins Before You Leave the Scene of a Crash
While the circumstances behind every collision are different, one fact holds true for all—the time immediately following the crash can be stressful and confusing. This guide can help steer you through the crucial steps to take right after an accident.
What Should I Do at the Scene of an Auto Accident?
Car and truck accidents create confusing and chaotic scenes. Knowing what do to at an accident scene can help protect your rights after the accident. Here are some general guidelines to follow at an accident scene:
If you are physically able and your vehicle is operable, you should stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible without obstructing traffic. Activate your emergency flashing lights if they are working.
Yes. You should call the State Police or the local law enforcement agency and report the location of your vehicle, your name, address, driver’s license number and vehicle registration number. You should also write down a statement of what you remember as soon as possible. It will help you to remain confident of your version of events and be able to explain what happened at court. It will also protect you from accidentally making contradictory statements, or simply forgetting details due to the stress of the event.
Cooperate with the officer and answer his questions regarding the facts of the accident truthfully. However, do not admit fault or discuss the accident and how it happened with any one else.
Make the required report to the State Police or local law-enforcement agency as soon as you are able. You should also make a reasonable effort to locate the persons involved in the accident. Give these persons your name, address, driver’s license number and vehicle registration number
You may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.
What information should I get at the scene from the drivers of other vehicles involved in the accident?
You should get the name, address, and phone number of each driver along with the vehicle(s) license plate numbers and each driver’s license number; the name of his or her automobile insurance company and the policy number; and the make and model of all vehicles involved in the accident (If they are commercial vehicles, write down the company name on the vehicle and any other identifying information).
The law allows any law-enforcement officer present at the scene of a motor vehicle accident to ask the drivers of all motor vehicles involved in an accident to furnish proof of insurance.
If you are physically able to take photographs at the scene and it is safe to do so, photographs of the accident scene and the vehicles involved can be helpful. These photos may be used by your insurance company or your lawyer if you decide later to make a claim against one or more of the other drivers for injuries and other damages. Use your best judgment here and make sure you are safe. If your vehicle has sustained substantial damage in the accident, you should have the vehicle photographed before it is repaired or destroyed. Scene photos can be very important to your insurance company or if you pursue legal action. After an accident, skid marks, debris, the appearance of the surroundings and other evidence may change or disappear within just a few days or less. For these reasons, you may want to return to the accident scene shortly after and take photographs. These photographs should be taken from different perspectives and at varying distances.
What if I was a passenger in a vehicle which was involved in an accident, but my driver did not stop at the accident scene and did not report the accident to law enforcement officers?
If you were 16 years of age or older and have knowledge of the accident which caused injury to a person or property damage, you must report the name and address of the driver and other relevant information you know to the State Police or local law-enforcement agency within 24 hours.
Under the law, the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident should render reasonable assistance to persons injured . This includes calling for medical help or taking injured persons to a doctor or hospital if medical treatment is necessary or requested by the injured person(s).
Regardless of the injury, seek medical treatment. It is not always immediately evident which kind of injury you may have sustained. For example, a simple back ache may indicate a long-term problem that has been created or made worse by the accident. When the law-enforcement officer arrives at the accident scene, tell him or her immediately that you are injured and describe your injuries. If other passersby stop at the scene before the police arrive, tell them you are injured so they can call 911 or the rescue squad.
Suppose I’m a driver involved in an accident that involves an unattended vehicle or unattended property is damaged?
A driver must make a reasonable effort to find the owner of such property and give this person his name, address, driver’s license number and vehicle registration number. If you cannot find the owner, then you must leave a note containing this information in a conspicuous place at the accident scene. You must also report the accident to the law-enforcement agency in writing, within 24 hours. This written report must contain the date, time and place of the accident and the driver’s description of the property damage. Should your injuries keep him from complying with these requirements, you should make the required report to law enforcement officials as soon as reasonably possible. You should also make a reasonable effort to locate the owner and report the relevant information to him.
Establishing liability in an auto accident is one of the most important tasks I will perform on your behalf. It is also one of the more complex tasks of handling motor vehicle accident claims, especially when more than one person or vehicle is involved in the accident. Proving you are a safe driver, exercising caution, and not texting or talking on the phone while driving improves your chances of getting maximum benefits and compensation. It is important to remember that the liable party’s insurance carrier will begin to protect themselves and you should do the same.
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