The steps you can take at the time of accident and at the site are very important:
- After verifying all individuals involved in the accident are okay and dialing 911 if necessary, focus on the property damage, i.e. the damages to your vehicle and the other vehicle(s).Take as many pictures as you can of the site of the accident, i.e. the skid marks, the nearby signs, posts, guard rails, etc., items in the road, a low lying bright sun, heavy rain, sleet, or snow in the air or on the roadway making the surface slick or the vision impaired.
- Take pictures of the damage to all vehicles. Focus on ways to show through pictures that the adverse driver was the impetus of the accident.
- Get contact information from all witnesses. Make sure you get both their home and cell numbers and their address and email address. Write legibly. Ask them what they saw. Ask them where they were at the time of the accident. Ask them who they thought was a fault. Take careful notes of the conversation and record it on a tape recorder or recording app on your phone if possible.
- Speak with the police officer. Get the officer’s name, badge number, and department contact information. Clearly state what happened. If necessary, write down prior to speaking with him to make sure your thoughts are clear and concise. Ask him who is getting a ticket and the type(s) of citations. Many times police officers will be in the position to choose one person’s story over others. Any citations you receive will damage your chances of recovering from the adverse driver or his insurance carrier.
You will also want to get as much information as you can from other parities involved as well. Here is a list:
- Be sure to ask them for their contact information including home and cell number address and email address. Very important: Ask for their insurance card. Verify the date on the card has not expired. Take down all information on the card, at least get their insurance company’s name. If you have the time at the scene, make a call while at the scene to verify they are a current insured of their insurance company. If they are not, let them and the police officer know this.
- You may certainly speak with other parties involved, however, do not volunteer any information on your part. Do not admit fault. You may want to ask them questions about what they saw, heard, and felt. Try not to reciprocate. If they talk with you you will have a better understanding of what they might say to the officer and their insurance carrier.