It may shock you to learn that over 6 million motor vehicle accidents occur each year in the United States. Unfortunately, this means that you stand a very good chance of being injured in one at some point in your life.
As a car accident lawyer can explain, few events are more disconcerting than being involved in a car crash. You are likely dazed, shocked and confused about what just happened, how it happened and whose fault it is. Nevertheless, despite your less than ideal mental state, you need to take quick action if at all possible. Why? Because what you do immediately after an accident may affect you, either positively or negatively, for months if not years to come.
Immediate Steps to Take
Perhaps the most important thing to remember after an accident is not to move your car, even if it’s blocking traffic, or leave the scene until police officers give you permission to do so. If you leave too soon, you could face charges of hit-and-run or leaving the scene of an accident, both of which are significant traffic charges. If you move your car before officers arrive, they may not be able to make an accurate accident report.
Instead, do the following:
- Call 911 on your cellphone, report the accident and its location and request both police and emergency medical assistance.
- Attempt to assess the extent of your injuries and those of any passengers in your vehicle.
- Do not move an injured person unless circumstances are such that remaining in the vehicle poses a threat to his or her life.
- If you can do so, talk with all other drivers involved in the accident and exchange names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license information and insurance company contact information with them.
- Also talk with any witnesses to the crash and get their names and contact information.
- Use your cellphone to take pictures of each vehicle involved in the accident, including its make, model, color, license tag and any evidence of damage, both old and new.
- Also take photos of the accident scene, particularly such things as skid marks, debris in the road, any construction barricades, any nearby traffic signals or signs, any nearby surveillance cameras, etc.
Cooperating With the Police
Once officers arrive, jot down their names and badge numbers and answer their questions truthfully, but succinctly. Do not volunteer any information or speculate as to the cause of the accident, and certainly do not say or indicate in any way that you think you may have been responsible for the accident or contributed to it.
Ask the officers for the number of their accident report and how, where and when you can obtain a copy of it.