When a loud crash brings your car to a stop, you don’t know how to react. You feel shocked and powerless, so you may just sit there waiting for something to happen. But you have to remember that the first moments after an accident are critical. What you do then can minimize the negative effects like criminal liability especially if you follow these guidelines.
- Check for injuries. Make sure that everyone in your car is okay. Then get up and confirm the same thing for all the occupants in the other vehicles involved. If anyone is hurt, contact 911 right away to get help. Avoid expressions of apology, long explanations, or conclusions about the cause of the incident. What you say can be used against you in a court of law.
- Write down what happened. Using a pen or paper, or the memo function of your smartphone, record the details while they’re still fresh in your mind. What exactly happened? How fast was everyone traveling? Did anyone break the law to cause the problem? What were the time, weather, and road conditions? Were there any witnesses? If the occupants of the other vehicles or witnesses say anything related to the accident, jot down that information as well.
- Take pictures. Use your cellphone camera to take as many pictures of the accident as possible from several different angles. Take shots of the vehicles and their positions, closeups of the damaged areas, and any marks left by the cars on the road or nearby structures. Get pictures of all the people involved, including witnesses; the weather; and the immediate physical environment, such as the surrounding buildings, roadway, or natural features. You never know when a seemingly insignificant image may swing decisions in your favor.
- Exchange the following information with the drivers of the other cars: names and addresses of drivers and operators; contact information; drivers license and license plate numbers; and insurance company name, phone number, address, agent and expiration date; and descriptions of any injuries or damage.