Even a simple accident can be a very disruptive experience. Prior to being involved in an automobile accident, you may never have given thought to what the proper steps are to take when an accident has happened. I have addressed some basic “do’s and don'ts” in this short article.
Call The Police - 911. This may seem obvious, but many people debate in their own mind, and even with the other driver, whether an accident is serious enough to call the police, or whether the property damage is sufficient to warrant such a call. It is better to let the 911 dispatcher ask the pertinent questions and make this determination. In all likelihood, the accident is one to which the police need to respond.
While you are on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, he or she will likely ask whether paramedics should be called. If there is any doubt as to whether they maybe needed, have the 911 operator send them. There is no reason to take unnecessary risks with the health of anyone involved in the accident.
Wait to discuss the incident with the police instead of others. It is our human tendency to want to talk about what just happened with everybody on the scene. This is actually not very helpful, and can be disruptive or dangerous. Words can be misunderstood or misconstrued. Arguments or even fights can break out. Once any kind of injury care or needs have been assessed, it is better to wait to discuss the incident with the police.
Exchange basic contact and insurance information. This is another step that, although necessary, is better to do through the police. The police have forms that can be used for this purpose, and can help alleviate the awkward situation in which you may voluntarily give your information to another driver and find them refusing to return the favor. And, frankly, people involved in the accident are less likely to give false or misleading information to the officer than to a “civilian”.
Make arrangements for your vehicle. If your vehicle is not drivable, the officers will likely call a tow truck, as they need to clear the scene. You are, of course, generally welcome to call any tow truck company you wish. If your car is being towed, make sure to get the information as to where it is being transported. You will want to visit the yard soon to remove personal belongings, if you are not able to do so at the scene of the accident.
Take care of your physical injuries. None of the above steps are as important as making sure your health condition is properly addressed. If you have any concerns at all about your physical injuries, have the paramedics assess your condition and follow their advice. Do not hesitate to accept the ambulance ride to an emergency room if you feel that an emergency room visit is needed.
There are many other steps that will follow those that occur at the scene of the accident. If there is an insurance claim, the accident site itself is only the beginning of a much longer process. If you or someone you know would like to learn more about what to expect during the insurance claim for bodily injury or property damage, don't hesitate to contact the law firm of Davis Miles to order a free copy of my book on the subject, entitled “Automobile Accidents”, or to speak with an attorney.