Accidents can be as upsetting and confusing as they are unexpected. Try to stay calm.
Since accidents are virtually inevitable, print this list of the 4 most important things to do at the scene of your car crash and keep it in your car.
Basically, this is what you need to take care of, in this order: arrange necessary medical care, make the scene safe and gather information.
If you have been seriously injured, the police will be involved and they will protect the scene and conduct an investigation.
If you have been in a car accident which has not resulted in disabling injuries, do these things . . .
1. Call The Police
If your accident is anything more than a “fender bender,” call the police. When the police come to the scene, cooperate with their investigation.
Police will make sure the scene is protected and will gather relevant information. If there have been serious injuries, they will prepare a report that will include all the important information you will need to make legal claims. At the least, they will get driver, vehicle and insurance information from each driver and give you a form with that information on it.
However, if you have had a minor “fender bender,” the police may not come to the scene even if you call them. If the involved cars are driveable, no one has been injured and there are no obvious violations of the law (such as drunk driving), the police probably won’t come to the scene, especially in busy urban areas.
If the police do not come to the scene, do these things at the scene of your car accident . . .
2. Protect The Scene
Turn on your vehicle flasher lights or put out cones or flares. If possible, move the vehicles off the road. In other words, take precautions to prevent a second accident.
3. Exchange Information With All Other Drivers
Identify all other drivers who were involved in the accident and get this information from each one . . .
- The identity of the driver(s). Get at least the name, address and phone number. Look at the other driver’s license to verify their identity. I recommend making a picture of the other driver’s license.
- Information about the other vehicles involved. Note the vehicle’s make and model and its license number (including the state). Get this information from the driver’s registration card. Make photos of the registration card and the vehicle.
- Each driver’s insurance company and policy number. Verify this information by looking at, and photographing, the other driver’s insurance card.
It is also a good idea to take a picture of each other driver (to help identify them later, if necessary).
If the other driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance card have inconsistent information – such as different addresses – reconcile the differences. If you can’t, call the police.
Of course, you have to give the other driver(s) this same information about you.
4. Make Records!
As soon as you are in a safe place to do so, write down everything you remember about the crash. Don’t trust your memory or even your smartphone camera. Record such things as the location, weather and traffic conditions, road conditions and exactly how the crash occurred. Include a diagram that shows the street(s) and the cars involved both at the time of impact and when the cars came to rest. Note any statements that other drivers made, such as admissions of fault.
One final point. I’ve recommended taking pictures of relevant documents, things and even people. But don’t create a disturbance over this. If another driver objects, simply call the police and let them handle the uncooperative driver.
If you do these things, you are well on your way to a successful claim for your losses.
If you have been seriously injured in a car crash in Maryland, contact us.