AUTO ACCIDENT BROCHURE–WHAT TO DO AT THE SCENE
|STOP your car at or near the accident scene.
CALL the police if anyone is hurt or dies. Also, call the police if any vehicle is so badly damaged that it must be towed.
GET the following information from the other driver or drivers involved in the accident:
a) Names and addresses
b) Telephone numbers
c) Driver’s license numbers
d) Registration numbers
e) Their insurance company names and policy numbers
GET the names and addresses of:
a) People involved in the accident
b) Witnesses of the accident
c) Insured people
RENDER AID: Pennsylvania law requires the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to stop and remain at the scene until fulfilling his or her duty to give information and to render reasonable assistance to the injured. You must give your name, address, registration number of your vehicle, and upon request exhibit your driver’s license and proof of insurance. You must also render reasonable assistance including the making of arrangements for the conveying of the injured person(s) to a physician, surgeon or hospital if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or requested. Failure to do this is a serious criminal offense, regardless of fault.
If the police do not investigate an accident and someone has died or been injured, or if a vehicle must be towed, you may send a written report of the accident within five (5) days to : PA Department of Transportation Bureau of Highway Safety & Traffic Engineering Post Office Box 2047 Room 212, Transportation & Safety Building Harrisburg, PA 17105-2047.
If possible, do not move the vehicles until a record of the accident has been made. Protect the scene, and help reroute traffic around the accident. Try to warn approaching motorists with flares, hazard lights, raising the hood of your car, etc.
Call the police to have them come out to the accident scene to take a report. They are much more likely to file a report about the accident if there were: 1) any laws broken, 2) any drugs or alcohol involved, 3) injury to any of the occupants requiring ambulance transportation or 4) towing of one of the vehicles is required. If the police will not come out to the scene of the accident to file a report, you should go to the police station to file a counter report as soon as possible. This is especially important to help you preserve your rights if you are the victim of a hit and run incident and may be making an uninsured motorist claim against the insurance company.
Try to make sure that all drivers, passengers, pedestrians and witnesses remain at the scene of the accident. If they insist on leaving, write down their names, addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers, etc., and an account of what they saw.
Take down the name of the police officer and his badge number. Ask him when and where you may pick up a copy of the accident report.
Both drivers must identify themselves to each other. Copy down information contained on the other driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance card. Likewise, identify all passengers and witnesses. You will need their names, addresses and phone numbers.
Make a diagram of the accident, showing the positions of the cars before, during and after impact; position and length of skid marks, note the positions of traffic lights and street signs, estimate the respective driving speeds, and record details about traffic and the weather and road conditions. If possible, have photographs taken of the accident scene and of any damage or injury. Photograph everything including your car, other car or cars involved, and the accident scene. Remember to use your cell phone camera. If you do not have a camera at the time of the incident, try to bring a camera back to the scene as soon as possible.
Write down what everyone said after the accident, especially what was said by the other driver or drivers.
VERY IMPORTANT: Do not admit to any fault for the accident. Do not volunteer information or comment on the accident. Do not sign any pieces of paper nor agree to pay for damages. You should, however, cooperate with police officers investigating the case. You must sign traffic tickets – but this in itself is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing. You must take an alcohol test if requested, or risk losing your license for one year. Advise the officer of basic facts, without adding personal comments or interpretations. Keep calm.
VERY IMPORTANT: If you are the victim of a hit and run driver or an unidentified driver who forces you to take evasive action and injure yourself or others, you must report this incident to the police department and to your own insurance company within thirty (30) days or you will lose your rights. Check your insurance policy immediately. One major insurer requires that you must give the insurance company a sworn statement within 30 days. This sworn statement must state that the insured has a legal action due to the accident. It must also include facts to support the action.
As soon after the accident as possible, it would be a good idea to be checked out by the emergency room or a doctor. Never refuse a suggestion from a paramedic that you allow an ambulance to take you to a trauma center. Even if there are no initial signs of pain, there might have been damage done to the neck or spinal cord. There are very fine multi-disciplinary clinics that specialize in the treatment of traumatic injuries – those which are specific to automobile accidents.
VERY IMPORTANT: You should talk to a personal injury lawyer at this time to clarify your rights and discuss questions of liability for the accident.
Do not discuss this accident on any social media.
You will need to contact your insurance company to report the accident and get an application for benefits. Pennsylvania law provides for no-fault medical insurance in automobile accidents up to the limits of your first party benefits. If that benefit is exhausted the law provides that your personal health insurance is next to pay.
This Blog is not intended to take the place of legal advice for any specific legal issue. It is intended to be educational and illustrative. As always, it is best to consult a lawyer who regularly practices in this area for legal advice.