In 2015, 6.3 million motor vehicle accidents were reported to law enforcement officers. As a result of those accidents, over 2.44 million people suffered some kind of injury. Even more concerning is the fact that 35,902 people died as a result of a car accident, a 7% increase from 2014. Whether the accident is a minor fender bender or one that causes substantial bodily injury, it is important for you to know how to conduct yourself in order to best protect your legal rights and any right to compensation for your damages.
First, if you are involved in an accident, DO NOT leave the scene. Especially if one of the parties involved seems injured, call 911. For instance, if the drivers leave the scene of the accident, it is unlikely the police will allow either driver to file a police report and will also refuse to conduct an investigation. Not having a police report is problematic down the road when and if you file a claim against another driver’s insurance.
After the authorities are called, get all of the drivers’ information. Ask for the drivers’ name, address, phone number, license plate number, vehicle information, and insurance information (insurance provider and insured’s policy number). If there are any witnesses around, ask for their contact information. The more information you have, the better. When questioned by the authorities, make sure your statements and the statements of other are accurate. If you disagree with one of the other driver’s description, do not hesitate to request the recording officer to notate the disagreement.
One of the biggest mistakes drivers make after an accident is that they fail to take pictures. If capable, you should always pull out your phone and take as many pictures as you can from every angle. Photograph not only your vehicle but all of the vehicles involved. However, If you have been injured in the accident, do not worry about the pictures, seek medical treatment immediately. Do NOT delay seeking medical attention.
Once you are in a secure place, contact your insurance company and inform them of the accident. Provide all of the information gathered at the scene of the accident as well as a detailed description of how the accident occurred. Although you may have the other drivers’ insurance information, do not contact his or hers insurance company. Let your insurance company do that for you. Should another party’s insurance company contact you and ask questions about the accident, do not answer. You have no obligation to speak with them, nor should you.
These are some of the most basic steps a driver should take after being involved in a car accident and will help preserve your legal rights and any rights to compensation. If you have been involved in an accident or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our office.
 U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics , 2015 (Washington, DC: 2016). See https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812318
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