I had a potential client call me a couple of days ago. Her husband was in a car accident. She was at home and had received a call from him from the scene of the accident. She told me she was headed to the scene, but wanted to know what she should tell her husband to do. My first thought was, “Forget about the legal stuff, just race to the scene and make sure your husband is ok!” However, upon reflection, it made me realize that many people simply do not know what to do to protect their interests at the immediate scene of a collision. Here are a few tips:
1. If you are injured, call 911 or if you are unable to call 911, have someone else call immediately.
2. Call the police to the scene and insist they do a police report.
3. Take picture of the scene, including photos of the damage to the cars, a photo of the license plate of the responsible party’s car, the injuries (if demonstrable) and the overall scene of the incident. Understand how to take photos with your cell phone so you can use that if necessary.
4. Insure that insurance information is obtained from the responsible driver.
5. Insure that driver’s license information is obtained from the responsible driver.
6. As soon as you can, write down everything the responsible driver tells you at the scene.
7. Keep your emotions in check/be careful what you say to the responsible driver.
If you are involved in an accident involving a commercial vehicle or 18 wheeler, you can rest assured that the corporation will have a representative at the scene immediately.
These tips will help to put you on the same playing field as the skilled risk management professional who will be at the scene on behalf of the corporation.
We hope you never have to use these tips, but knowing them can save you a lot of emotional and financial stress.
Robert A. Greening