Accident Scene

If I’m in an accident, should I stop?

Yes! You must stop. Regardless of whether the accident involves a pedestrian, a parked car, someone’s property, or a moving vehicle, you are required by law to stop. If you leave the scene of an accident, you can be charged with “hit and run” even if the accident is not your fault. If you hit a parked car, you are required to attempt to find the driver. If you cannot, the law states you may drive away only after you leave behind your name, address and an explanation of the accident. After, you must notify the police either by telephone or in person.

How can I get help?

As soon as you can get to a telephone, call 911. Explain the situation and advise them of your location. Be sure to mention if you need an ambulance or a fire engine. If you do not have a cell phone, try to flag down a passing vehicle, and ask them to get help. If you are in a dark location, such as a country road, and cannot get through on a cell phone, it is recommended, to drive to the nearest safe location (i.e., a gas station, a house with their lights on, etc.) and call the police.

At the accident scene, what information should I ask for and when should I ask for it?

Obtain as much of the following information as possible and write down:

  • The other driver’s name, address, date of birth, and telephone number.
  • Their driver’s license number and expiration date.
  • Their insurance company.
  • The other car’s make, year, model, license plate number and expiration date, and vehicle identification number (“VIN”).
  • If the driver is not the owner, you will need to get the owner’s name, address, telephone number and insurance company.
  • The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any passengers in the other car.
  • The name, address, and telephone number of any witnesses to the accident. If they are unwilling to stay, ask them what they saw and write it down.
  • If there was someone at the scene that will not give you his or her name, just write down his or her license plate number. The police officer can trace the owner’s name and address.
  • Make a simple diagram of the accident. Please note if there were any skid marks on the road.
  • If you have a camera with you, take pictures of the scene. The camera on your cell phone will do.
  • Take notes on the road and weather conditions. If the accident happened after dark, were the streetlights on?
  • Estimate how fast you were going, as well as the other driver. Be sure to note the exact time and place the accident happened.

What to do if the accident was my fault?

Be sure to cooperate with the police officer investigating the case, but stick to the facts. Also, we recommend you pay attention to any statements made by the other driver and write it down. Many times, even if you think you are responsible for an accident, it may be learned later that the other driver may also be at fault.

What if I get a ticket?

Sign it. When you sign a ticket, it is nothing more than your promise to appear in court. If you do not sign the ticket, the police officer can arrest you. While it is okay to sign the ticket, you should talk with a New York attorney or Los Angeles attorney before you pay a fine or plead guilty to the charges.

Do I have to report an accident?

Yes. You may need to call the police first, but as soon as you get home, you need to call your insurance company. Ask your agent what forms you should fill out and to help you make other necessary reports on the accident. Click here for no fault insurance accident information.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident or if you have any other questions regarding what to do or accident scene questions, please contact us.