STOP. Even for a minor accident, driving away from the scene of an accident could add criminal charges to your record. No matter how small or minor, ALWAYS exchange information with the other driver(s) and passenger(s) – driver’s licenses/photo ID’s, vehicle registration and insurance information, and any additional information they may have including names, addresses, and phone numbers.
CALL 911. Police reports are valuable even if the accident is minor and all you need is to file a claim for repairing the damage to your vehicle. If someone has been injured in an accident, a police report becomes even more crucial to establish the facts of what happened.
DO NOT ADMIT FAULT. Even if you believe that you caused an accident, you should never admit fault. Other factors may have had a role in causing the accident that you may be entirely unaware of, such as alcohol, cellphone use, vehicle malfunction, and many more. Determining who is “at fault” for an accident is a complicated undertaking – do not assume that you are to blame just because you may have thought so initially.
TAKE PICTURES AND VIDEOS. Thanks to smartphones, most people have access to easy to use, high quality cameras to capture helpful information. It is critical to take pictures of an accident scene as soon as possible and of the participants involved if anyone may have been injured. If there is no immediate danger, take pictures before moving your vehicle off the roadway to capture the unaltered aftereffects of the accident. Many drivers or passengers involved in accident will record video at the scene and take further video of the locations of the vehicles, any damage the vehicles may have sustained, or any injuries any of the participants may have suffered – video footage can be used to select precise still images which most fully depict an accident scene.
GATHER AND RECORD INFORMATION. Write down everything that happened, including the date, time, and day of the week of the accident. Write down the license plates and VIN numbers of the vehicles involved – sometimes the police make mistakes in their reports and having an independent record of all information can you protect you from such inaccuracies. Make sure to write down the information of all other drivers and passengers involved in the accident – driver’s licenses/photo ID’s, vehicle registration and insurance information, and any additional information they may have including names, addresses, and phone numbers. If there are any witnesses, be sure to get their names and phone numbers and addresses and write them down! It can be very difficult to locate witnesses after an accident if no one has gathered their information. Be as accurate as possible, and make sure that no speculation is included in your notes and records.
STAY ORGANIZED. Following an accident you should keep a file of all accident-related notes, documentation, records, pictures, and other information. Make sure to keep a record the contact information of everyone involved in the accident, your attorneys’ contact information, your insurance claim number, the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim, and every doctor and medical provider you may have visited.
REPORT ANY ACCIDENT TO YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY. Always report any accident you may have been involved in to your insurance company. Be sure to cooperate with the company adjusters and team, but keep in mind that the insurance company is looking to protect itself and is not your friend! The company may also be representing the other driver and may try to settle a claim below its fair value. Make sure to consult with your attorney before signing any papers provided by an insurance company.
KEEP COPIES OF ALL MEDICAL RECORDS. Insurance coverage is a complex and at time confusing world. When dealing with an accident that involves injuries, both car and health insurance considerations come into play. This can be very complex, and it’s important to keep an active log of each doctor seen and every medical record on file.
CALL THE ZWEIG LAW FIRM. Even if you believe your injuries are minor, they may turn out to be more severe than you think. Many injuries develop and worsen over a period of time, and many injuries will feel very minor at first due to the body being in shock. Call The Zweig Law Firm for a free consultation – we can provide you with the proper steps and procedures for your unique situation.
Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.