Accidents 101: Be Prepared for the Unexpected
When an accident occurs, it is important to understand how each party should respond in order to ensure safety and preserve crucial pieces of evidence. Protocol can vary depending on the type of accident.
There are some common options about what to do in the event of a car accident — many of which lead to unsafe actions and wasted time and effort. If you are involved in an automobile accident, it is important to follow the following procedure:
1. First, contact emergency personnel: This could include police, ambulance, etc.
2. Record a picture of the accident scene: Almost everyone has a smartphone device with a camera. Take a picture of the vehicles in their positions following the crash. This becomes crucial evidence later on.
3. Move yourself and your car to a safe area: People commonly believe that they must leave their cars in the exact position of the crash until the police arrive —even if it’s in the middle of the highway. This is a huge, and potentially dangerous, mistake. Move off to the side of the road (not the median) with your vehicle if possible.
4. Make calls and record information of witnesses: When you are in a safe place, you can make calls to family, friends, insurance companies, etc. If there were any witnesses to the accident who offer to help, you can take their information as well.
It is important to note that police often do not record names, addresses, or phone numbers of witnesses. If the cause of the accident seems obvious to the responding police officer(s), they may not see the need to collect information from witnesses who will reiterate the conclusion that the police have already been reached. Their goal is to clear the accident scene, prevent further injury and damage, and get people on their way to the hospital or back home. Unless it is a life-threatening situation, the police will not be as concerned with collecting witness information as you should be. It is in the best interest of the involved parties to collect contact information for beneficial witnesses.
When a car accident results in serious injury, death, or the use of a medevac, the police will close down the road and conduct a full accident investigation including measurements, photos, etc. Their response in this situation is very different from the average auto accident.
As a result of the police investigation, the parties in the accident do not have to be concerned with preserving evidence.
If you are involved in an accident of this nature, you should utilize the following procedure:
1. Take a step back: Breathe, regain composure, and think about the next steps.
2. Address any health concerns: Attend immediately to any health issues.
3. Contact an attorney: Do not give statements to anybody nor fill out any reports until you consult with an attorney. Injury victims or their families may receive unwanted solicitations from insurance companies, investigators, or lawyers due to the seriousness of the accident.
4. Collect information: This includes phone numbers, plan numbers, etc.
This protocol is also useful in other types of emergency situations: medical first, legal second, everybody else last!
If you have questions about any type of accident, please contact us. Consultations are free and if we accept your case, our fee will be based upon a successful outcome resulting in a settlement or award. If we do not collect either, then we will not earn a fee.
James F. Leonick
Leonick Law, P.L.L.C.
TEL: (631) 486-9500