Screeching tires, crunching metal - it's an accident! If you've ever been in a car accident in your area, even a minor one, you know how upsetting it can be. It's hard to think straight and know what to do.
Let's review what you should do in case of an accident:
When an accident occurs, you should always stop. Leaving the scene of an accident in is considered a crime - even if it's not your fault. And hit and run penalties are fairly severe, possibly resulting in steep fines, loss of your driver's license or even jail time.
Your jurisdiction may require that you try to help someone who is injured by calling for help or performing first aid if you are able. Warn other and motorists by putting out flares, using your flashers or lifting your hood. Call emergency services as soon as possible. Tell the operator if medical or fire help is needed.
Always file a police report. It's tempting to skip this if everything seems to be ok. But without a police report, the other guy can say whatever he wants about the accident later, and you'll not have an objective report to help defend yourself. Discuss the accident only with the police. Emotions are strong after an accident and we naturally want to talk about it - don't. Never admit fault or guilt to anyone including the police officer. Sometimes we may feel at fault, but in the eyes of the law, the other guy is responsible.
Truthfully give the officer the facts: such as "I was going thirty miles an hour" not "I wasn't speeding". Remember, anything you say to the officer or anyone else can be used against you.
Also get the officer's name and ID number and ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.
Get the facts on the driver and owner of the other vehicle:
- Phone number
- Date of birth
- Driver's license number and expiration
- Insurance information
Also take down a description of the other vehicle, license plate and vehicle identification number. Most auto insurance companies don't record license plate numbers, so the VIN number is the best way to track the vehicle.
Ask witnesses, including passengers, to wait for the police. If they can't wait, ask for contact information and request that they write a brief description of what they saw. If someone refuses to leave their name, write down their license plate number so the police can track them down later if necessary. Always call your insurance agent or your insurance company. Call or see a physician if you think you may have been injured.
We here at Mackert Automotive hope that you never have to use this information and wish you happy travels.