Car accidents are stressful. If you have been in one, you may not be thinking clearly. But there are important things to do immediately after the accident. If you can, keep the below information available in your car:
- Stay at the accident scene: Do not leave the scene of the accident until the police arrive and tell you to do so. If you leave the scene, it is particularly risky if anyone has been injured. You do not want to be accused of hit and run.
- Check all drivers and passengers for injuries: Before checking your vehicle, make sure that everyone involved in the crash is unhurt. Call an ambulance for anyone who needs medical attention. If anyone is unconscious or has neck or back pain, do not move them at all and wait for first responders to arrive.
- Call the police: If there is major property damage, physical injury or someone died, you must call the police. Request the police to file a report, and get the name and badge numbers of all officers who came to the scene.
- Exchange contact information: Obtain the names, numbers, addresses, license plate numbers and insurance information from each driver. If there were passengers, also get their names and contact information.
- Do not admit guilt: It is a mistake to admit liability for an accident even if you obviously were liable. People are upset after accidents, and you may not be liable, but taking liability can be used against you in court later.
- Get witness statements: Ask what everyone saw and get their names and contact information. Ask residents if accidents happen often there.
- Call your insurance company and report the accident. Tell them your honest view of what happened.
- Keep track of medical costs: Keep track of all medical professionals who treat you, what it costs and what they do for you.
- Take photos: Take pictures of the accident scene before vehicles are moved, damage to vehicles and your injuries.
If the accident involves more than a few hundred dollars of damages and there are serious injuries, strongly consider hiring a personal injury attorney. Your attorney can help to maximize your compensation, and to defend you if you are found at fault.