We all hope to avoid car wrecks — both causing them as well as becoming a victim of one — but sometimes automobile accidents just can’t be avoided.
Here are six things you need to do after an accident, while still at the scene.
#1 Check for injuries.
You may be injured or your passengers may be hurt. Always check for injuries first. Then go to the other vehicle and check for injuries with them. If someone is in need of medical attention, call 911 immediately.
#2 Have the police write a report.
After you have checked for injuries, call the police so they can come to the scene and write a report. This is an important step because it provides a neutral, objective version of what happened. The correct way to do this in Oklahoma is to call 9-1-1, state that you are involved in an accident, state whether it involves personal injuries, and give your location. Afterwards, you should see a police officer or highway patrol trooper arrive.
#3 Exchange information with the other driver.
At a minimum, you need to obtain the following: the other driver’s name, insurance policy number, and description of the vehicle. Other helpful information includes the other driver’s home address and telephone number, license plate of the vehicle, and contact information for his insurance adjuster. But at a minimum, if you just have his name and insurance policy number, you can get a claim started. And this is another important reason for calling the police because they will take all of this information for their report (or at least they’re supposed to, but that’s why you should get it yourself as well).
#4 Do not admit fault.
Preserve your memory, however you can. Know what happened and be able to explain it. But do not automatically conclude that that the collision was caused by your negligent actions. Further investigation may resolve this issue, and you may not be aware of all the facts at play. When explaining the situation to the reporting officer, focus on the facts, what was going on and what happened, and avoid guessing about fault.
#5 Stay out of traffic.
After you’ve checked for injuries and while you are waiting on a patrol officer, try to move your vehicle out of the line of traffic. This is not only to allow the steady flow of other vehicles commuting along, but also for your safety. You’ve just been involved in one collision; you don’t want to be involved in another. And subsequent collisions at the scene of an existing car accident are more common than one might think.
#6 Do not leave!
This is an important one. Once involved in a motor vehicle collision on a public roadway, you have a duty to exchange information with the other party involved. Even if no injuries are involved, you could be charged with a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of an accident. If there is a bodily injury involved – even if you’re the one injured – the crime becomes a felony. So don’t drive off! Hang around, make sure everyone is ok, exchange information, and wait for an officer to show up and make a report.
Follow these 6 steps and you are setting yourself up to be in the best situation you can after a bad accident. If you are hurt in any way and need medical attention, go see a doctor immediately. Then call us to speak to an experienced car accident lawyer.