What to do at the scene of an accident

An injury accident is upsetting and shocking. It’s hard to know what to do, but very important to protect your case and ensure you can get the medical care you need.


1. Stay calm, move slow, get your bearings


The moments after a collision, whether with an auto, pedestrian, bike, or 18-wheeler can be disorienting. Your body and mind have just been through a traumatic event and it is not uncommon to have trouble processing events around you. The first thing to remember is to stay calm and check yourself for obvious injuries. You don’t want to aggravate an injury by moving or climbing out of a vehicle. If/when you are able, take in the scene and get a feel for the details. Who is involved? What happened? Is anyone in need of emergency attention? Most importantly, make sure that you are safe.


2. Call the police


Many of us were raised thinking that the thing to do after a collision is to exchange information. This can put you at risk if someone decides to change their story after the dust has settled. In almost every circumstance it is better to call the police and, if possible, get a report done. This will be important evidence if you end up in a lawsuit.


3. Take pictures with your phone


After the vehicles are towed and the scene cleared, evidence that shows what the scene was like is lost forever. Make sure that you photograph the scene if you are able. Here is list of pictures that you will want to be sure to take:


  • License plates (make sure you get the trailer license plate as well if applicable);

  • Driver’s licenses;

  • Insurance Cards;

  • For 18-wheelers, get a photograph of the DOT number, it is usually on the door;

  • Property Damage of all the vehicle involved;

  • Face of the driver;

  • Any witnesses – a good tip is to take a video of a witness saying their name, phone number, and email address;

  • Make sure to get a wide shot of the scene itself if possible; and

  • Be sure and take a picture of anything out of the ordinary (for example broken streetlights that make the scene exceptionally dark).

4. Make sure that the police and EMS know if you are experiencing pain


No one wants to incur the expense and inconvenience of an ambulance ride, but it is important that there be a record made of your pain at the scene. At the very least, make sure the officer in charge of the scene understands that you are in pain and may be injured. This will be reflected on the CR-3 (crash report). If your pain is sever, consider traveling immediately to the ER. Emergency Room staff are trained to determine whether or not you have a life-threatening condition that will need immediate attention.

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