What should I do after a car crash?

Unfortunately, auto accidents happen all too often in Tennessee. If you become involved in one, you need to take some immediate steps to prevent an already bad situation from becoming even worse. The decisions you make right after your accident could affect you for months or years to come.

As FindLaw explains, the most important thing you should do is to stay at the scene of the accident if at all possible until law enforcement officers arrive and tell you you can leave. If you leave too quickly, you could receive a ticket for leaving the scene or even for hit-and-run driving.

Check for injuries

Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If anyone appears injured, use your cellphone to call 911 and request emergency medical help as well as police assistance. Do likewise for the driver and passengers of all other vehicles involved in the accident. Do not move any injured person unless absolutely necessary. (S)he could have a spinal cord injury that could worsen if you move him or her. Wait for the paramedics to get any injured people out of their cars. Even if no one appears seriously injured, call 911 and request the dispatcher to send officers to your location.

Collect information

While waiting for officers and/or others to arrive, speak with all other drivers and exchange the following information with them:

  • Name, address and telephone number
  • Driver’s license state and number
  • License plate state and number
  • Insurance carrier name and number

Make sure you do not make any rash statements while talking to the other drivers. In particular, make sure that nothing you say implies that you think you may have caused the accident. Such statements could easily come back to haunt you later when the law enforcement officers start handing out tickets or in the event someone sues you.

If your cellphone takes pictures, use it to document the following for each vehicle involved in the accident, including yours:

  • Make and model
  • License plate
  • Any signs of new damage from the accident
  • Any signs of prior damage

Make a police report

Once officers arrive, jot down the name and badge number of each one. Answer their questions truthfully but briefly. Do not volunteer any information, and again, say nothing to indicate that you caused the accident. Be sure to ask the officers for their accident report number and how, when and where you can obtain a copy of it.

Finally, call your own insurance carrier and report the accident, but do not volunteer excessive information. Remember, your insurance company may not be your friend when it comes to making a claim.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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