What to do Immediately After a Car Crash
- Stay at the Scene. It’s important to not leave the scene. You could be cited for leaving the scene until investigating officers come by and do their jobs.
- 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 911Before 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 SoIf 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 InformationGet 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.
- Do Not Apologize, Even if You Think You Were At FaultIt’s natural to feel responsible and sorry after a crash. You might even believe you did something that contributed or caused the crash. 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. There could be many reasons why a crash occurred and witnesses might have seen something that contributed to the crash that you were unaware of at the time of your apology. 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.
- Locate and Talk to Witnesses/Get Their InfoAsk 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 canThere 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.
It’s very common to be shook up after a car crash. You might not know what to do. Feel free to print out this page of the website and put it into your glove box or car’s console to look at after any crash.
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.
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