What you do, and how you go about doing it, immediately after a car crash can make all the difference between your life’s ease or difficulty in the following months. Decisions you make at the accident scene will impact what happens subsequently.
First, as FindLaw explains, do not move your car, even if its position blocks traffic. Even more importantly, do not leave the scene to seek medical or law enforcement help.
Quickly check yourself and your passengers for any obvious injuries. Then, if possible, do likewise for all other drivers and their passengers. Never move an injured person unless absolutely necessary; it could worsen the injuries. Instead, call 911 and request both medical and law enforcement assistance.
Exchange information with all other drivers, including the following:
- Name, phone number, street address and email address
- Driver’s license number and state
- Vehicle’s license plate number and state
- Insurance company name and phone number
Keep these conversations as short as possible, and never speculate about who or what caused the accident. Take special care to refrain from saying anything that indicates you think you may have been partially at fault.
Using your cellphone’s camera, take pictures of the following with regard to each vehicle, including yours:
- Make and model
- License plate
- Indications of old damage
- Indications of new damage
Also take photos of the accident scene, especially any road debris, traffic signals, construction barriers, etc.
Make a police report
Cooperate with officers in making their accident report, answering their questions truthfully, but succinctly. Do not volunteer any unasked-for information and again, say nothing that implies you think you may have caused the accident. Make a note of each officer’s name and badge number, and ask when and how you can get a copy.