You should know what steps to take immediately following an accident to protect yourself and your legal rights.
Here are the steps you should take if you are involved in an accident with another vehicle, bicycle or pedestrian.
- Stop Your Car
Never leave the scene of an accident in which you or your car are involved. No matter how slight the collision makes sure you stop even if the accident was not your fault.
- Get Medical Treatment
If anyone has been hurt, call 911 and ask for an ambulance.
- Call the Police
Call 911 for the police even if there are no injuries. The police are trained to handle any situation that may arise after an accident. Their report on the accident may be helpful to you later. The police report is also important if you need to make an insurance claim. If the police cannot respond to the accident scene or do not prepare a report, you yourself are required by law to report any accident involving property damage greater than $1,000 or personal injury within 15 days of the accident to the state Division of Motor Vehicles.
- Exchange Information
As the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident, you are required by state law to give the other driver certain information. Do not comment on the cause of the accident, and do not admit fault even if you think you were in the wrong. Even an apology can be understood as an admission of fault. You may discover later that the other driver was equally or more to blame. Also, immediately after an accident, you will most likely be emotionally or physically upset, and you may not be able to see all sides of the situation clearly.
Just as the law requires you to give certain information, you are entitled to the same information from others involved in the accident. Be sure you or the police officer get this information. You should also get the name of the other driver’s insurance company if any.
Besides the names and addresses of the people actually involved, make an effort to get the names and addresses of anyone witnessing the accident. Witnesses may be important later in the insurance claims process or if legal action is necessary.
- Get Accident Scene Photos
Also, if you can:
- Take pictures of all vehicles involved in the accident from all angles,
- Make notes of the important aspects of the accident to help you remember them,
- Draw a diagram of the exact position of the vehicles before and after the accident, and
- Take pictures of skid marks and other important landmarks, such as telephone poles or signposts.
- See Your Doctor
If you have any doubt at all about your own condition, see a doctor as soon as possible. Ask your passengers to do the same. Make sure you give the doctor or emergency room personnel a complete and accurate report of exactly what happened and what injuries you think you have, no matter how minor they seem. Since some types of injuries do not cause noticeable problems until later, it is important for your doctor to have this information.
If you have questions regarding an accident, you should request a free consult with an experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. Call us at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our confidential contact form.