Just as it is prudent to have a first aid kit and a safety plan in the event of an emergency, it can be helpful to know what you should do at the scene of a car accident. There is no way to anticipate every possible variable, so your situation might require different actions than these recommendations. You should always do what makes sense, depending on your facts.
Get Out of Harm’s Way
The AAA auto club urges people to get to a safe place so that they do not get struck by other vehicles. You should not leave the scene of the accident, but you should get out of traffic lanes. If your car is not drivable, you should proceed to a safe location to wait for the emergency vehicles.
It can help to turn on your hazard lights. If you can do so safely (and you have them in your possession), you might want to place warning triangles, cones, or flares to notify approaching motorists of the crash.
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Call the Police and Paramedics
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS)’s 2018 Traffic Collision Fact Book informs the public that South Carolina law requires people to report all traffic accidents that happen on a public street or highway and involve an injury, death, or at least $1,000 in total property damage. If possible, you should call for law enforcement to come to the scene to make a report.
If you can do so safely, you should check on the passengers and other drivers to see if anyone needs emergency medical assistance. Call 911 if you got hurt or you think that someone else might have injuries.
Exchange Information with All Relevant Individuals
You will not be able to make a claim against the at-fault driver if you do not know the person’s identity. Make a note of all the license plate numbers first thing. Someone might bolt from the scene when they notice that someone got hurt.
If law enforcement arrives quickly, you might not have to interact with the other drivers much. Still, you should exchange this information with each other:
- Names of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses
- Contact information for all drivers, passengers, and witnesses—including home addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers
- License plate numbers for all vehicles involved
- Vehicle identification numbers of all vehicles in the collision
- Driver’s license numbers of every involved driver, even if they do not appear to be at fault
- Description of all cars (color, make, model, and year)
- Auto insurance details for all drivers and vehicles—including company name, agent, policy numbers, and agency or company phone number
Sometimes police reports are incomplete. You do not want to rely on law enforcement to gather all of the information and later find out that some details are missing.
Document the Scene of the Accident to Guard Against Potential Lies from the Other Party
Take photos and videos of the vehicles, people, location, scene of the accident. Read on to learn about some reasons to save this documentation.
Someone might claim that their damage to the vehicle was greater than it was at the scene, particularly if law enforcement did not come and make a report that included drawings of all physical damage to vehicles.
Additionally, an individual might deny being involved in the accident. If someone borrowed a car, they might say that the owner drove that day. Photographic evidence can help to identify who actually drove.
Capturing how the scene and location looked can prove if someone later lies about the conditions that day. For example, the other party may claim that they lost control of their vehicle on snow and ice. If your photos and videos portray dry pavement on a sunny day, you can disprove their argument. While this might be an extreme example, without this objective proof, the judge might call the disputed facts a “he said, she said” situation.
Having the proof and information you need can make the difference between getting the compensation that you deserve and the at-fault driver lying his way out of liability for your losses.
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Call Our Team Today to Begin Fighting for Damages
We hope that this article answered some of your questions about what you should do at the scene of a car accident. If you got hurt in a collision that was not your fault, you might be eligible for money damages from the careless party.
The Hammack Law Firm could help you hold the negligent person accountable for the harm you suffered. We handle car accident injury claims on a contingency-fee-basis, which means that you do not have to pay upfront legal fees. We get paid out of the settlement proceeds or award at the end of the matter. You can call us today at 864-326-3333 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Our Client Bill of Rights offers a 30-day unconditional satisfaction guarantee —no costs and no fees. We serve our Greenville clients in all areas of personal injury, including auto and motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, and boating accidents.
To get started with our Greenville personal injury law firm, please simply contact us online or call 864-326-3333 for a free consultation.