The aftermath of a car accident can be chaotic, especially if there are injuries or significant property damage involved. However, taking some key steps right away can protect your interests in the future if you need to seek compensation from the at-fault parties or their auto insurance providers.
Once you pull over to the side of the road (if possible) and turn on your hazard lights, be sure to do the following:
- Call the police and render first aid if it’s reasonable to do so: Your safety and that of others involved in the accident must be your first concern. But in every case, it’s important to call 911, even if there are no significant injuries. When you do so, a police officer will come to the scene, contact emergency medical services if necessary and create a report detailing what he or she believes caused the crash. This can be valuable if you later need to file an insurance claim.
- Exchange information: There are a few pieces of information you should get from the other drivers involved, including their names, addresses, phone numbers and, most importantly, auto insurance information. Do the same for any witnesses.
- Do not admit fault: As you wait for police to arrive, you may engage in small talk with the other people involved. Avoid admitting to any degree of fault for the crash and try to move the conversation away from the accident if possible.
- Take photos: If you have a cellphone handy, take some photos of the accident scene and any damage to the vehicles. This can help investigators and your attorney determine fault for the crash.
- Report the accident to the DOT: In Pennsylvania, you must report a car accident to the state Department of Transportation. Failure to do so could result in your driver license getting suspended.
Taking these actions can help protect your interests if you later need to make a claim with an insurance company or move ahead with a personal injury claim in the days and weeks following a crash. For further advice, speak with a skilled Pittsburgh car accident attorney at Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, P.C.