Below is a non-comprehensive checklist of actions to take following a motor vehicle accident. For more specific insights feel free to contact the attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell today.
- React Safely: If there are no serious injuries and it’s safe to do, move your car off the road (but never leave the scene). If you’re in a high traffic area, assess your ability to either safely move your car or exit your vehicle. Never move seriously injured people unless there is greater danger in leaving them where they are.
- Write it Down: Write down the time of the accident, location, date, weather and traffic conditions, police involvement, any injuries, and your recollection of the event ASAP. Don’t rely on others to get your story right.
- Pictures Speak a Thousand Words: Almost everyone has a phone with a camera. Photograph damage to your vehicle and other vehicle(s), the license plate(s) of vehicles involved, any relevant landmarks (street signs, buildings), and anything that might have contributed to the accident (a broken stop-light, covered sign, etc.)
- NAME NAMES: First get the name(s) of the other motorist(s) involved. If there are any witnesses, get their names next before they leave. Write down the names of these people, as well as investigators like police officers or insurance adjusters. And later when you speak to an insurance agency, get the name of the representative you’re speaking with.
- Get the Essentials: Never leave an accident without getting these essentials: other driver’s full name, insurance company, policy number, and the phone number for their insurance company. But note, neither you nor the other driver is required to disclose home addresses, phone numbers or driver’s license numbers.
- Do not Admit Fault: At the scene, it is not advisable to admit you were at fault. This means no apologies, and don’t sign documents which indicate you were the at-fault party. Cooperate with police and be courteous to the other driver, but this can be done without saying you’re the reason this accident occurred.
- Don’t Agree to Not Report: It’s strongly advised not to make any written agreement or accept payment for not reporting an accident. Call 911, get a written report. Following an accident, even a minor one, emotions and adrenaline are running high. There may be unseen damages to your car or undetected injuries to your body.
Protect yourself by knowing (and preserving) your rights. If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident or are just looking for more information or advice, the attorneys at Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O’Connell are available now to assist you.
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