By: Gary G Goldberg
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What To Do When You Have An Automobile Accident
What To Do After a Traffic Collision
When you find yourself involved in an automobile accident, there are three primary objectives. First, make sure that everyone involved in the accident moves off the roadway as quickly as possible to avoid the risk of secondary collision. Second, attend to the injured. Third, gather as much information as possible about the other drivers and their vehicles.
In the moments following a collision, after you have called 911, do your best to get your vehicle and all of the other vehicles off of the roadway to avoid a secondary collision by a motorist who may come quickly upon the accident scene. Then, the priority becomes providing first aid or other care to the injured persons at the scene. If you are not trained in emergency medicine, try, whenever possible, not to move any seriously injured persons to avoid the risk of further injury. Move such persons only if they are still in the roadway and are at risk of being hit by another vehicle.
The third priority is gathered as much information as possible. Information collection includes taking photographs with your cell phone of not only your vehicle and the accident scene, but the other vehicles and the persons present at the scene. Then, while you wait for emergency medical providers, such as paramedics, exchange identification and insurance information with the other driver(s). However, once you provide your identification and insurance information, resist the temptation to give too much personal information about yourself to the other driver(s) or discuss how the collision happened.
Do your best to observe the driver who caused the collision to determine whether you believe the person may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you come to that conclusion, it is important to notify law enforcement as soon as they arrive at the scene or by telephone by dialing 911. Meanwhile, be sure to photograph or jot down the license plate information of the vehicle that caused the collision and obtain as much information as possible from any bystanders who may have witnessed the collision. Do not rely upon law enforcement to get the names and contact information for witnesses who are present at the scene.
When law enforcement arrives, the investigation Officer(s) will separate the respective drivers to get their statements. When you speak to the law enforcement Officer at the scene, take the time to recount what happened and under no circumstances guess something about which you are unsure. Additionally, try and give the Officer approximations of measurements as to speed, time and distance by giving a range that you believe is accurate. For example, very few drivers could tell you precisely their speed at the moment of impact, However, the driver can give an estimate of their speed, within 5-10 miles per hour, as well as the speed of the other vehicle. That information is more accurate and appropriate response when being interviewed by law enforcement.
Furthermore, the Officer may ask you for information that you do not know. In that case, the appropriate response is “I do not know”. If the Officer asks you something about which you do not have a clear recollection, the accurate response is “I do not recall”. Once again, never ever guess about information that you do not accurately recall.
Before leaving the scene, be sure and get the card that the Officer should be giving you with his identification information and the number for the report that he will be preparing at a later time. That Traffic Collision Report is important for the investigation by the personal injury attorney that you, as the victim of the accident, will retain to assist you.
In the event that you are sufficiently injured that you require ambulance transportation, if it is possible to take some photos and gather any information prior to the arrival of the ambulance, please do so. If you had passengers, and they are less severely injured, ask the passengers to help you with the information gathering while you focus on dealing with your injuries.
Over my 32 years of practice, I have come to appreciate the very stressful situation of what it means to be at an accident scene. I also have some to appreciate how stressful it is, even after you leave the scene of the accident, to come to terms with the talk of dealing with your property damage and bodily injury claims. That is where my services can be of assistance to you. Contact me to discuss your legal options and let me provide to you the assistance that you will need to start to put your life back together again.