What should you do when you're in an accident
Accidents happen to the best of drivers.
State law requires that a vehicle involved in an accident wherein a person is injured or damage is done to some property shall immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
- ASSIST THE INJURED
Your first duty after stopping your car is to check for injured persons. If someone is seriously injured, call 911. Do not move the injured person unless you know what you are doing. Good intentions on your part may result in further injury to the victim.
- PROTECT THE SCENE
Prevent further accidents. Warn approaching vehicles and, if at night, use flares and reflectors. If no flares are available and you have a flashlight, use it.
- CALL AN OFFICER
Give notice of the accident to the local police, the office of the County Sheriff, or the State Highway Patrol.
State law requires that you give your name, address, and registration number of the vehicle you are driving, you exhibit your chauffeurs or operators license, and that you show proof of liability insurance.
Do not comment on the accident. Keep your notes and information strictly to yourself. Admit nothing even if you think you are in the wrong. You may learn later that you were not in the wrong or that the other driver was equally to blame or more so.
Your emotions at the time of the accident may deceive you. If, at a later date, facts clearly show that you alone were in the wrong, then is the time to admit blame.
- ASSIST THE OFFICER
Remain at the scene, unless injured, until the officer arrives. Cooperate with the officer by advising him of the basic facts briefly. Remember, no one can force you to give an opinion as to the cause of the accident at the scene, at police headquarters, or elsewhere. You have the right to consult a lawyer before making any statement. If it is a serious accident, consult an attorney as quickly as possible. Any statement made may be used as an admission, so it is important that you contact your lawyer as soon as possible before making any statement.
- IDENTIFY THE OTHER DRIVER
Obtain the other drivers name and address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving. Request him or her to show you their drivers license and proof of automobile insurance.
Obtain the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any and all witnesses as soon as you can both eyewitnesses and all others who might have some information about any of the circumstances of the accident. After writing down their names and addresses, try to get a statement from the witnesses as to what happened and have them, if they will, write it down at the scene. Always have a pen and paper, as well as this information, in the glove compartment of your car.
- TAKE NOTES
Make your own written notes on all significant circumstances concerning the accident. Show position of cars after the accident. Step off exact distances of skid marks and other important distances. Be certain that you can at a later date point on the road where the vehicles collided and where they came to a stop.
- TAKE PHOTOS
If you or someone else has a camera at the scene, take pictures to preserve skid marks, position of the cars, and other physical evidence that will disappear after the accident.
- WHEN TO LEAVE THE SCENE
Unless your injuries impel you to do otherwise, do not leave the scene of an accident until you have, as outlined previously, assisted the injured, protected the scene, called an officer and assisted him, identified the other driver, obtained the names, addresses, and statements of all witnesses, and made notes.
- SEE A DOCTOR
Serious and costly injuries DO NOT always result in immediate pain or obvious injury. Tell the doctor everything that hurts, even a little bit. What may only be a nuisance at first can increase and be the primary symptom later.
- INFORM INSURANCE COMPANY
Report to your insurance company. Failure to do so may affect your rights.
- CONSULT AN ATTORNEY
Protect your rights to recover for any damages and/or injury.
This information is issued to inform the public. It is not intended to advise anyone on legal problems but is merely to be used as a guide as to what procedure to take at the time of an automobile accident. No person should ever attempt to apply or interpret any law without the advice of a lawyer.