What Should I Do At The Accident Scene?
Steps and tips to follow at an accident scene to protect your rights:
- Do I have to stop?
- Where do I stop?
- Should I call the police?
- What should I tell the investigating police officer about the accident?
- What if I can't call the police at the scene of the accident because of my injuries?
- What if I don't do these things?
- What information should I get at the scene from the drivers of other vehicles involved in the accident?
- Can the investigating police officer obtain insurance information from the other drivers for me?
- Should I take photographs of the vehicles and the accident scene?
- What if I was a passenger in a vehicle which was involved in an accident, but my driver did not stop at the accident scene and did not report the accident to law enforcement officers?
- What if someone else is injured in the accident?
- What if I am injured in the accident?
- Should I go to the hospital?
- Suppose I'm a driver involved in an accident that involves an unattended vehicle or unattended property is damaged?
- What should I do after the accident?
Do I have to stop?
Yes. The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident (including car accidents, truck or tractor trailer accidents, or motorcycle accidents) must stop immediately if (1) a person is injured or killed or (2) if an attended vehicle or other attended property is damaged.
Where do I stop?
If you are physically able and your vehicle is operable, you should stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible without obstructing traffic. Activate your emergency flashing lights if they are working.
Should I call the police?
Yes. You should call the State Police or the local law enforcement agency and report the location of your vehicle, your name, address, driver's license number and vehicle registration number.
What should I tell the investigating police officer about the accident?
Cooperate with the officer and answer his questions regarding the facts of the accident truthfully. However, do not admit fault or discuss the accident and how it happened with anyone else.
What if I can't call the police at the scene of the accident because of my injuries?
Make the required report to the State Police or local law-enforcement agency as soon as you are able. You should also make a reasonable effort to locate the persons involved in the accident. Give these persons your name, address, driver's license number and vehicle registration number.
What if I don't do these things?
You may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.
What information should I get at the scene from the drivers of other vehicles involved in the accident?
You shouldget the name, address, and phone number of each driver along with the vehicle(s) license plate numbers and each driver's license number; the name of his or her automobile insurance company and the policy number; and the make and model of all vehicles involved in the accident (If they are commercial vehicles, write down the company name on the vehicle and any other identifying information).
Can the investigating police officer obtain insurance information from the other drivers for me?
The law allows any law-enforcement officer present at the scene of a motor vehicle accident to ask the drivers of all motor vehicles involved in an accident to furnish proof of insurance.
Should I take photographs of the vehicles and the accident scene?
If you are physically able to take photographs at the scene and it is safe to do so, photographs of the accident scene and the vehicles involved can be helpful. These photos may be used by your insurance company or your lawyer if you decide later to make a claim against one or more of the other drivers for injuries and other damages. Use your best judgment here and make sure you are safe.
If your vehicle has sustained substantial damage in the accident, you should have the vehicle photographed before it is repaired or destroyed. Scene photos can be very important to your insurance company or if you pursue legal action. After an accident, skid marks, debris, the appearance of the surroundings and other evidence may change or disappear within just a few days or less. For these reasons, you may want to return to the accident scene shortly after and take photographs. These photographs should be taken from different perspectives and at varying distances.
What if I was a passenger in a vehicle which was involved in an accident, but my driver did not stop at the accident scene and did not report the accident to law enforcement officers?
If you were 16 years of age or older and have knowledge of the accident which caused injury to a person or property damage, you must report the name and address of the driver and other relevant information you know to the State Police or local law-enforcement agency within 24 hours.
What if someone else is injured in the accident?
Under the law, the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident should render reasonable assistance to persons injured . This includes calling for medical help or taking injured persons to a doctor or hospital if medical treatment is necessary or requested by the injured person(s).
What if I am injured in the accident?
When the law-enforcement officer arrives at the accident scene, tell him or her immediately that you are injured and describe your injuries. If other passersby stop at the scene before the police arrive, tell them you are injured so they can call 911 or the rescue squad.
Should I go to the hospital?
If a rescue squad or ambulance is called to the scene, you should allow squad members to examine you. If they recommend taking you directly to a hospital Emergency Room, you should go. If you do not go to the hospital from the accident scene, but believe you are injured, have someone drive you to the hospital Emergency Room or to your doctor's office as soon after the accident as possible.
Suppose I'm a driver involved in an accident that involves an unattended vehicle or unattended property is damaged?
A driver must make a reasonable effort to find the owner of such property and give this person his name, address, driver's license number and vehicle registration number. If you cannot find the owner then you must leave a note containing this information in a conspicuous place at the accident scene. You must also report the accident to the law-enforcement agency in writing, within 24 hours. This written report must contain the date, time and place of the accident and the driver's description of the property damage.
Should your injuries keep him from complying with these requirements, you should make the required report to law enforcement officials as soon as reasonably possible. You should also make a reasonable effort to locate the owner and report the relevant information to him.