What Information Should I Exchange After a Car Accident?
Protecting yourself legally and financially after an automobile accident in Merrimack Valley requires taking certain steps. By law, you must always pull over after a car accident, render aid to those injured and exchange information with the other driver. Being prepared for what information to exchange ahead of time can make it easier to get what you need in the stressful and confusing aftermath of a car accident.
Information to Get From the Other Driver
According to Massachusetts law, you must stop at the scene of any motor vehicle accident, no matter how small. This includes an accident involving a parked and unattended vehicle. You must also exchange information with the other driver before leaving the scene. Failing to do so could result in a hit-and-run allegation. Swap the following information with the other driver involved in your car accident while still at the scene:
- Full legal name
- Contact information (phone number and address)
- Vehicle registration number
- Description of the vehicle involved (make, model, year, color)
- Driver’s license, if requested
- Car insurance information
If the other driver refuses to give you the required information, call the police to collect the information for you. If you struck an unattended car, you are obligated to leave at least your name, contact information and a description of the accident in a note in a conspicuous place on the vehicle if you cannot locate the owner.
What Else Should You Do After a Car Accident?
In Massachusetts, General Laws Section 26 requires you to call the police after any motor vehicle accident in which a person is injured, killed or there is more than $1,000 in damage to any one vehicle. Failing to report your car accident to the police when it is legally required to do so could lead to a moving violation or even criminal charges. Notifying the police can benefit you, even if the car accident is minor. The police can create an official report detailing all of the facts about the collision, which you can use for an insurance claim later.
Once you have pulled your car over in a safe location, out of the way of the road, check yourself for injuries and exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so. If anyone appears to be injured, call 911, request an ambulance and render aid to the injured person, if possible. Exchange information with the other driver and anyone else involved in the crash, including passengers. Take photographs of the accident scene and get the names and phone numbers of any eyewitnesses before you leave.
What Not to Say to the Other Driver After a Car Accident
Just as there is certain information that you should exchange with another driver after a car accident, there are also things that you should not say, starting with admitting fault. Never confess to causing a car accident. Do not apologize to the other driver, either; while this may seem like the polite thing to do, it could be taken as an admittance of guilt. Try to remain calm when speaking to the other driver, as well. Do not shout, yell or get violent.
If you are asked any questions about your injuries by the other driver, the police or an auto insurance company, say that you don’t know until you have seen a doctor. Even if you do not notice immediate symptoms of an injury, you could have a delayed injury, such as whiplash or a concussion. Saying that you are uninjured upfront could make it more difficult to obtain financial compensation. Wait to give details about your injury until after you’ve been to a hospital.
For more information about what to do and what not to do after a car accident, contact a Merrimack Valley car accident lawyer.