What should I do at the scene of a car or truck accident?

  • February 20, 2021
  • Blog

Car and truck accidents create confusing and chaotic scenes. Knowing what do to can help protect your rights. Here are FAQs to help guide you through what do do at the scene of an accident. And keep our handy Car Accident Glove Compartment Guide printed and in your glove compartment.

at the scene of a motor vehicle crash


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.

two angry motorists fighting over a car accident

What should I tell the investigating police officer about the accident?

Cooperate with the officer and answer their questions regarding the facts of the accident truthfully. However, do not admit fault or discuss the accident and how it happened with any one 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 should get the following from each driver:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Vehicle make and model
  • License plate number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Name of his or her automobile insurance company
  • Insurance policy number
  • Note: 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?

Yes. The law allows any law enforcement officer present at the scene of a motor vehicle accident to ask that the drivers 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 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.

stressed out woman in a car accident

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?

Report this information. 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 any relevant information to the State Police or a 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 them 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.

What if I’m a driver involved in an accident with 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 their 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 you 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 them.

Do I Need An Attorney?

If you were injured and believe you were not at fault in causing a motor vehicle accident (including car, truck or tractor trailer, or motorcycle accidents), you may need a lawyer to investigate the accident and help determine whether or not you have a case of negligence against one or more of the other drivers. Call Allen & Allen today for a free consultation, at 866-388-1307.