From the Desk of Jeff Shaw, Attorney at Law

7 Things You Can Do at a Car Accident Scene

Posted by Jeff Shaw | Jan 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

Car accident attorney

1.  Stay at the Scene

Never leave the accident scene until it's appropriate to do so. If you leave, particularly where someone has sustained injuries or was killed, you can face serious criminal penalties for being a hit-and-run driver.  Make certain you are not in the road, so as to cause another accident.  Get someplace safe and await the investigating officers to arrive.

2.  Check on All Drivers and Passengers/Call 911

Before assessing property damage, make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay. Get medical attention for anyone who needs it. If a person is unconscious or has neck or back pain, don't move them until qualified medical help arrives, unless a hazard requires moving the person.

3.  Call the Police and Don't Move the Vehicles Unless It is Dangerous Not to Do So

If there's significant property damage, physical injury, or death, you need to call the police. Ask that a police report be filed in situations where cops do arrive at the scene, and obtain the name and badge numbers of the responding officers.

4.  Exchange Information

Get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers' license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. If there are passengers, also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses. In talking to other drivers, try to be cordial and cooperative.

However, you shouldn't apologize for anything at the scene. For example, if you say, "I'm so sorry I ran that red light! Is everyone okay?" you may be admitting legal responsibility and liability for what happened. Immediately after an accident, it might not be clear who was at fault or more at fault. Therefore, try not to admit guilt unintentionally or unnecessarily.

Although there is a statutory law in Indiana that limits the use of apologies in court, it is subject to interpretation and is better avoided.

5.  Locate and Talk to Witnesses/Get Their Info

Ask every witness what he or she saw. Get their names, numbers, or addresses, if possible. Ask locals if they've ever witnessed other accidents in the same place.  This is important because many investigating police departments do not ask witnesses for addresses.  You might need that later.

If you are too hurt to locate witnesses, ask the officers to write down all addresses of each witness.

6.  Take Cell Phone Photos or Pictures if You Can

There is no law preventing you from taking photographs.  It might prove valuable later in the investigation phase.  Don't interfere with the investigation of the police officers, but if you can take photographs of the vehicles and people involved, there is nothing preventing you from doing so legally.

If you don't have the correct frame of mind to start taking photographs, see if a friend could do so for you.  You are allowed to call for assistance to friends and family.

7.  Cooperate with the Police Investigation

Be calm.  Be cooperative.  It is understandable that you are upset after being involved in a collision.  The investigating officers will want to ask you questions about what happened.  Make certain you give all of the pertinent details in a calm and collected manner.  If you know of witnesses, identify them.  If you can explain why the accident is the other driver's fault, explain why in simple and direct terms.

You have a right to see the crash report later.  If you believe mistakes have been made, you can request changes.  But, it's best to avoid that necessity by cooperating and being inclusive initially.

About the Author

Jeff Shaw

Jeff Shaw has over 25+ years of experience trying personal injury lawsuits with over 100+ jury/bench trials. His reputation is one of fierceness in the court room mixed with good humor.

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