According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s 2017 statistics, around 221 people are injured each day across the state due to traffic accidents. One out of every 159 people in the state is injured in a car accident each year. Every eight hours, someone dies due to an accident on Pennsylvania roadways. If you’re in an accident and someone is injured, do you know what to do? Read on to learn more from an experienced car accident attorney.
Stay at the Scene
If you’re in an accident that results in property damage, injury, or death, it is very important that you remain at the scene or as close to it as possible. Not only is it the responsible thing to do, but it is also the law. Even if you were not at fault for the accident, you have the responsibility to exchange information with the other driver and to render aid to individuals who are injured.
Immediately after the accident, ensure that you and your occupants are uninjured. If possible, remove your car from the roadway so that other motorists can get by. You should also safely exit your vehicle and check on the occupants of the other vehicles involved. Put your hazards on and set out cones, flares, or warning triangles (if you have them) to warn oncoming traffic of the accident.
If there are injured parties, it is important to call 911 right away so that medical professionals can promptly attend to them. Even if their injuries seem relatively minor, it is best to allow medical professionals to decide whether an individual needs treatment at a hospital. The same rules apply to you: if you are injured, even if the injuries seem minor, you should still let a medical professional examine you. The reason for this is that, in the midst of all the excitement, you may not realize how injured you are. Additionally, some injuries present with delayed symptoms that make it impossible to realize if you’re injured without diagnostic tests.
Often, a police officer will respond to the scene of an accident—particularly one involving injuries—and will gather information from each driver for the accident report. However, if there is no officer present, you and the other driver should exchange information. The information you will want to receive from the other driver and provide to him or her includes:
- Names of all drivers and passengers involved
- Contact information, including address and phone number
- Drivers license numbers
- License plate numbers
- Insurance information, including the name of the company that the other driver is insured by as well as the policy number
- Vehicle information, including the year, make, and model of each car
While you’re at the scene, you should take photos of the precise location, as well as the damage to both vehicles, any debris on the roadway, and any visible injuries that you might have. You should also make note of the time and date when the accident occurred. If there were witnesses to the accident, you should collect their names and contact information, as well as the name and badge number of the officer investigating the accident, if an officer is present.
Make a Report (if No Police Responded)
While police will generally respond to accidents involving injuries, they may be busy and unable to do so. If this is the case, you are still required to file a police report within five days after the date of the accident. The information you will need to have for this report includes:
- When the accident occurred
- The precise location of the accident
- Any injuries that were sustained by anyone involved in the accident
- Any vehicle damage that exists and whether the vehicle needed towing
- Information about all of the vehicles involved, including make, model, year, license plate number, and insurance information for each vehicle
- Information about all drivers involved, including drivers license number, names, phone numbers, and addresses for each driver
- The weather at the scene at the time of the crash
- A description and diagram of the accident in your own words
All drivers in an accident are required to submit an accident report within five days if an officer does not respond, even if you're not at fault. You should also promptly report the accident to your insurance provider, regardless of fault, as your policy likely requires you to do so.
Avoid Making Statements
When the officer arrives at the scene of the accident, answer his or her questions thoroughly and to the best of your ability. However, avoid conversations in which you accept blame for any part of the accident. Do not apologize. Do not speak to the other party’s insurance carrier until you have first spoken with an attorney. Do not sign anything unless it’s from the police or your insurance company. You should also avoid posting about the accident on social media.
The reason to avoid taking blame or making statements is that anything you say to the people in the other car, witnesses, or representatives of the other party’s insurance will be used to prove that you were liable for the accident. If you sign something without knowing for sure what it is, you may accidentally sign a sworn statement or accept a settlement offer.
Talk to an Attorney
As soon as possible after the accident, you should speak with an experienced car accident attorney who can help you deal with insurance companies, determine sources of liability, and explain the legal options that are available to you. If the accident was caused by the negligence of another individual or entity, and you or your passengers were injured, you should seek compensation for your damages.
Keep an Accident File
You will want to keep all of the information that is related to the accident in one file so that it is easy to find and access. Some of the information you want to retain includes:
- A copy of the police report
- Contact information for any witnesses
- The contact information for the officer who made the report, including name and badge number
- Any bills for medical expenses, including ambulance fees and emergency room visits
- Bills for the damage to your car, as well as for a rental car if you had to obtain one after the accident
- The contact information for any insurance representatives that you speak to—either for the other driver’s insurance company or yours—with notes of the date of the conversation and what was said
If you or your passenger was injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should contact an attorney to determine your eligibility to seek compensation for your injuries. An experienced car accident lawyer at the Levin Firm is ready to help you understand the process.