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August 27, 2015

Things to Do and Not Do at the Scene of an Accident


The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) reports[1] that 79,758 people were hurt in motor vehicle accidents during 2014. In many of these cases, the people who were injured were legally entitled to recover financial compensation for the losses they incurred as a result of their crash. Examples of the kinds of losses that may be compensable after a car accident include the costs of medical care, property damage, lost income, physical and emotional pain and suffering as well as others. Car accident victims should be aware of the fact that the things that they say and do at the scene of an accident can have an impact on their ability to recover compensation. The information below is intended to help people who have been involved in accident preserve their legal rights. Anyone seeking advice regarding their specific circumstances should contact a Philadelphia car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Alert emergency responders

The first thing that people who are involved in accidents should do is call 911 to alert emergency responders to the fact that an accident has occurred. Doing so will call both police and emergency medical personnel to the scene, ensuring that any injuries that victims have sustained receive medical attention. In addition, law enforcement officers who arrive on the scene should generate a police report regarding the incident which will indicate how the accident occurred. This report can be extremely important if the events surrounding your accident are in dispute. Furthermore, police will also determine whether anyone involved in the accident was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which can be relevant in determining legal liability in any civil case that may arise.

Collect information

Car accident victims who are able to do so should collect a variety of information about the way in which their accident occurred. Examples of the kinds of information that should be gathered and documented include the following:

  • Vehicle license plate numbers
  • The names of the other drivers
  • Contact information from witnesses
  • Insurance information
  • Photographs of the scene of the accident
  • DOT[2] Vehicle numbers
  • Business names or logos on vehicles
  • Police report number
  • The names of the officers on the scene
  • The location of nearby video cameras

Memories fade and evidence can be lost or destroyed. For this reason, it is important to document your observations regarding the accident as soon as possible after it occurs, even if your documentation is in the form of informal notes.

Say as little as possible regarding the accident and the role that you played

In many cases, people who have been involved in accidents are shaken up, confused, and upset. In this condition, you may say or do things that could indicate that you were at fault for the accident even if you were not. In addition, while you may feel bad about what happened, an apology worded the wrong way may actually be construed as an admission of liability by other parties. As a result, it is important for victims to say as little as possible regarding the accident to others. When speaking to law enforcement about the accident, be direct and answer questions, but do not offer more information than necessary.

Request medical attention

You should request that medical personnel on the scene evaluate your condition, even if you do not believe that you have been seriously injured. In many cases, the shock of being involved in an accident may make injuries seem much less serious than they actually are. In addition, there are many injuries, such as whiplash, which may become symptomatic for hours or even days after an injury occurs. Undergoing an evaluation at the scene of the accident will allow you to determine whether you need emergency medical treatment.

A Philadelphia car accident attorney can help victims recover

Many car accident victims can recover significant compensation for their injuries and other losses. The assistance of an attorney can often help people who are entitled to recovery obtain more compensation more quickly than they would representing themselves. Insurance company representatives are trained to minimize the amount they pay out and often offer unrepresented parties unreasonably low settlement offers hoping that they will simply accept them and move on. In addition, they often ask victims questions designed to have victims inadvertently admit full or partial liability for the accident in which they were involved. Consequently, people hurt in accidents should refrain from communicating with an insurance company until they retain legal counsel.


[1] http://www.dot.state.pa.us/public/Bureaus/HighwaySafety/Web%20Development/

[2] http://www.transportation.gov/

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