I have been involved in a collision, what should I do?
Often it will take some time for the police and other authorities to arrive and if it is safe to do so, it would be desirable to obtain as much information as possible about the collision. Obtaining the names, addresses, telephone numbers, driver’s license numbers and insurance information of the vehicle operators and owners involved in the collision is very important. On occasion we find uninsured or unauthorized drivers involved in such collisions and getting the license plate numbers of the vehicles, along with their make and model can also be important.
In this era of camera phones, pictures of the location of the vehicles after the collision, the damage to the vehicles, and any skid marks or other evidence that could later demonstrate clearly how the collision happened should be taken, if it is safe to do so.
Sometimes, in the aftermath of a collision, tempers flare and it is important to keep calm in the face of a potentially dangerous situation. On some occasions drivers who cause collisions readily admit their responsibility for the collision and if they could be encouraged to do so in front of any witnesses at the scene or in front of the police officer or other authorities, pay careful attention to what is specifically said by those individuals and in front of whom it is said. Sometimes it is useful to take written notes at the scene about what was said and to whom.
When the authorities arrive at the scene make sure that you get the names and badge numbers of any police officers as well as their employers. If a police report is authorized, make sure to get the number of the police report. Often mistakes are made between county police officers and state police officers and locating them later to testify concerning their observations becomes very difficult. It could also be useful to take specific notes about the scene of the collision, including the weather conditions, time of day, location and any factors that may have resulted in the collision.
Assess carefully whether you feel you have been injured at the scene. Often drivers find that later in the day they end up going to the emergency room for injuries they sustained in a collision. The excitement and adrenaline associated with being involved in a collision will often have the affect of reducing the awareness of the accident participant as to any pain or difficulties they are suffering. At many trials of collision cases, defendants and police officers testify that they were told at the scene that the injured party was feeling fine and that that individual got in their car and drove away from the scene and went to work. This can result in judges and juries underestimating the extent to which a collision has brought about an injury and giving little credence to later complaints that collision victims describe.