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The Scene

At the scene of an accident, there are some immediate DOs and DON’Ts that you need to know about

DO

Take Pictures

It is important to document the accident well. Take many pictures of the scene. In particular, take pictures of the damage to your and any other vehicles, the layout of the scene, and anything that might have affected or contributed to the accident. These should be taken from multiple different angles, preferably before any vehicles have been moved.

Identify Witnesses/Get their Info

Witnesses are vital, especially if the accident report is inaccurate (which it frequently is). The officer writing the report is supposed to gather witness information and use it in the report, but often they will not do that. Therefore, it is in your best interest to do this yourself. Gather names, statements, and phone numbers from as many witnesses as possible so that you can use their stories later on.

Exchange Insurance Information

Give your Insurance information to any other drivers involved, and get their information as well.

Call the Police

Report the accident to the police as soon as possible.

Participate in the Accident Report

As the officer writes the accident report, he or she must gather information. This usually comes from the statements of the drivers involved and any witnesses. Often, however, the officer is not diligent in gathering this information, so be sure to be there to provide it. As stated above, the officer will often cut corners by neglecting to look for witnesses. If you are not there to provide your statement, more often than not the officer will use only the other driver’s statement to write their report. In some cases, given two conflicting reports, the officer will pick the one he or she thinks is most reliable and base their report from that. Being present to give a statement can minimize the risk of an unfavorable accident report.

Observe how the At-Fault Driver Reports the Accident

If the other driver calls their insurance company to report the accident, listen and take note of how they describe it. This can help you if the case goes to court.

Be Vigilant/Look for Evidence

Always look for evidence that can back up your side of the story, and document it any way you can.

DON’T

Apologize

A common human reaction is to immediately apologize to everyone involved. In an accident, however, this is a mistake. Apologizing can be seen as an admission of fault, so refrain from doing so as much as you can.

Give a Statement Until you are in Control of your Faculties

Before you give a statement, take a second to calm down. In the adrenaline-fueled rush immediately following the accident, it is likely you’ll say something you’ll regret.

Rehash the Accident to Everyone

Don’t go around explaining what happened to everyone who will listen. No matter how careful you are, your story will change as you remember new details. In order to maximize your credibility, give a statement when you are in your right mind, and don’t talk about what happened again.

Take Responsibility

Do not take responsibility for what happened. This can irreparably damage your claim.