What to do at an Accident Scene
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 liability for what happened. Immediately after an accident, it might not be clear who was at fault or more at fault. Moreover, in many states, fault isn't determinative of which insurer will pay for any loss. Therefore, try not to admit guilt unintentionally or unnecessarily.
- 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.
- 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.
Here at Shaw Law, we believe that every accident is preventable. Every accident is due to someone's fault. You should not have to bear the brunt of the negligence of someone else.