On the scene of the accident, collect information. Write down the name, address, driver’s license number (and state), license plate number (and state) and insurance information for the other driver(s). Also, be sure to collect the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any and all witnesses to the accident.
In addition to taking down information for the involved driver(s) and any witnesses, take down notes about the scene and location of the accident. Document the cross streets, the posted speed limit, the weather during the accident, any street lighting (or lack thereof), traffic lights or stop signs (or lack thereof), etc. All of this can prove helpful in establishing whether negligence was involved in the accident.
Make sure to request, from the police officer investigating the scene of the accident, a copy of the officer’s business card along with the “incident number,” so you or your attorney can obtain a copy of the police report.
Finally, jot down notes about how the accident took place, including the direction in which the vehicles were travelling, what the cars were doing at the time of the collision, etc. Photographing the vehicles involved in the crash, and documenting the damage, is always a good idea.
Aside from exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver(s), and speaking to them in the course of any absolutely necessary discussion, do not make statements to anybody at the scene of the accident except for the police. What you tell police officers at the scene of the accident can come back to bite you if and when you seek compensation for any damages you might have incurred as a result of the accident.
Do not admit fault. Whether or not you honestly believed the accident was your fault, do not admit fault to the other driver(s) or to the police officer. You do not have all of the facts yet, and prematurely claiming responsibility could prove harmful. Unbeknownst to you, the other driver might have been speeding or texting, etc., a traffic light might have been malfunctioning, etc. Any number of factors, which you are unaware of immediately after an accident, could have contributed to the accident.
Do not claim to be free from injury. Your back might feel fine at the scene of the accident, but it may start to cause you serious pain in a week. Some injuries do not appear until days, weeks or even months after the accident. Saying you are “fine” can complicate your ability to seek compensation for your injuries later.
Immediately after you’ve been involved in a car accident, survey the damage. If there has any damage to property or injury to any individual(s) as a result of the crash, make sure you stay at the scene of the accident. If you are unsure as to whether there has been injury or damage, be safe and wait at the scene. If somebody has been injured, and you are qualified to provide first aid care, do so; if you are not so qualified, do not attempt to care for the injured. Also, be sure to never move an injured individual’s body, as doing so may exacerbate any injuries.
Once you’ve surveyed the scene, contact the police (or have someone else contact the police) to report the accident. When they are contacted, the police should be told how many people are injured (if there are injuries). While you wait for the police, make sure that the emergency lights are flashing on the involved vehicles and, if possible, that the vehicles are moved out of travel lanes. (This is for your safety as well as the safety of other drivers.)
As soon as it is feasible to do so, contact a personal injury lawyer, such as one of ours at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green, by calling 561.266.9191.
Q I am at fault for accident causing serious injury to another driver. My limits are spent, are the things I own in jeopardy?[+] Expand
It depends on many factors such as what type of asset, are you head of your household, do you own a house and is it homesteaded, and do you own a second house. It is also possible to garnish your wages if you are employed. You really should speak to an attorney who handles asset protection.
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