Car crashes are traumatic events that take people by surprise. Immediately after an accident, you can’t think clearly because your adrenaline pumps and your emotions peak.
What you do in the aftermath, however, can determine your personal, legal and financial options. FindLaw recommends you take the following steps after being in a motor vehicle accident.
1. Stay put
Stay at the scene. Do not move your car and do not leave until law enforcement officers grant you permission. Otherwise, you put yourself at risk for a hit-and-run or leaving-the-scene charge.
2. Assess injuries
Check yourself, your passengers and all other drivers and passengers for injuries. Call 911 and request medical assistance if anyone appears to require it. Do not, however, move any injured person unless leaving him or her poses greater danger.
3. Request law enforcement help
Even if no one appears injured, call 911 and request law enforcement assistance so you can make a police report.
4. Collect information
Gather the following information from each driver involved in the accident:
- Name, phone number, email address and street address
- Driver’s license number and state
- Vehicle license plate number and state
- Insurance company name and contact information
Keep these conversations as quick and cordial as possible. Do not speculate as to who caused the accident, and do not indicate you may have caused it.
Also take pictures of the following for each vehicle – including yours – involved:
- Make, model and VIN number
- License plate with clear visibility of its state and number
- Previous damage
- New damage
5. Make a police report
Write down each officer’s name and badge number and answer their questions truthfully but succinctly. Do not volunteer information and do not say anything that might lead them to believe that you caused the accident. Ask for their police report number and when, where and how you can get a copy.