How you interact with the responding police officers following an accident will depend on the severity of the injuries sustained. If you do not require immediate medical attention, take a breath and take quick stock of your surroundings. It can be helpful if a driver or passenger can take a quick cell phone photo of a landmark from inside the vehicle to establish location. However, if the collision takes place in a high traffic area or on a blind curve or hill, the driver’s first priority should be to safely and quickly negotiate the vehicle out of the traveled portion of the roadway. And if possible, the driver should do so prior to reporting the accident to the police. A driver without fault in the initial collision could become liable for injuries sustained by others if a non-disabled vehicle is left in the road and creates a new and dangerous condition for other drivers.
In the event of serious injuries, initial contact with the police may be made by the other driver or a bystander. However, once the injured party is physically able, the police should be in contact to complete the official report. If that does not happen, the injured person should consult with his attorney, like a car accident lawyer trusts, to discuss having any personal recollection of relevant information related to the police for inclusion in, or as an addendum. to the report.
Regardless of which situation one may face, it is important to remember that only information one knows to be factual should be provided to the police. You can give information as to what you did, what you saw, and your own actions and reactions as the events unfolded. But, if you are asked a question you can’t answer, don’t guess. It’s better to say you don’t know than to speculate as to what may or may not have happened. One should also avoid speculation as to the thought process or motivations of other drivers. Incorrect information on an accident report can create difficulties down the road and can be extremely difficult to straighten out or explain away by the time a trial is scheduled.
And don’t mistake a rush of adrenaline as feeling fine. If an officer asks if you need medical attention and you do not feel you require an ambulance immediately, it is acceptable to say you will be contacting your family doctor or visiting a neighborhood or urgent care center once you are no longer needed at the scene.
Additionally, as it becomes more and more common to maintain documents in digital format, it is still a good idea to keep a paper copy of your insurance and vehicle registration in your glovebox. A damaged or lost cell phone isn’t of much use in the aftermath of a collision; and a driver may find the police to be more responsive and helpful if the driver is well prepared with personal information and has shown the initiative to look out for the well-being of his or her fellow motorists.