Even if you believe you are at fault for causing a motor vehicle accident, the first thing you shouldn't do is to accept blame. Leave the job of determining who is at fault up to your insurance company or the court, as being at fault isn't always due to careless driving or negligence.
Even if no one has been hurt, and you don't have to call 9-1-1 for medical assistance, there are still immediate steps to take following an accident to protect your legal rights.
Ensure Everyone's Safety
Pull your vehicle off to the side of the road if the damage is minor and it's still safe to drive. The other driver involved in the mishap should do the same. If you can't move your vehicle, or if it's illegal in your state to move your vehicle until the police arrive at the crash site, get yourself and others safely off the road. Whether your vehicle is on or off the road, use the flares or warning triangles from your roadside emergency kit to signal oncoming traffic of a disabled vehicle ahead.
Get Photo Documentation
Take photos of both vehicles and the damage to each. If you move the vehicles off to the shoulder of the road, get before and after photos.
Get photos of the road or intersection, skid marks, any crash debris, and traffic lights or signs. If injuries are involved, get photos of those too. If the case goes to court, pictures can help show details you might not be able to describe accurately.
Call the local or state police to report the accident. Do not leave the accident scene until the police have all the information they need to file a full accident report. Avoid talking to anyone -- except for the police -- about what happened. Don't even say "I'm sorry" to the other driver as those words can imply guilt.
Exchange your information with the other driver. Be sure any information you give or receive is accurate. Both you and the other driver will need the other person's:
Name, address, and phone number
Insurance information, including the name of the insurance company and policy number
Vehicle year, make, and model
Driver's license number
Vehicle registration number
License plate number
Note the Details
Write down the details surrounding the accident. Include anything you think might be useful when the insurance company investigates.
What to note:
Time of day the accident occurred
Weather conditions at the time (Example: poor visibility because it was foggy, raining, or
Indicate what lane you were in at the time and from what direction the other vehicle came
If you were at at intersection with a traffic light or stop sign
If you tried to avoid hitting an animal in the road
If the sun was in your eyes
If you tried to avoid a pothole or road debris
If you experienced a flat tire or tire blowout
Contact Your Insurer
Call your insurance company before you leave the scene. Your insurer may want to talk to the police officer filing the accident report. Get the company's 800 number from your insurance ID card.
Get Witness Contact Information
If there were witnesses to the accident, ask them for their names and contact information. The insurance company or the police may want to interview them. Your attorney also may want to interview witnesses if you're sued in court.
Don't question a witness yourself, especially if you're facing litigation. Your lawyer, such as George T. Bochanis Law Offices, will know what questions to ask and how to ask them to get the facts.