Be prepared for what happens after a vehicle accident

Speeding and distracted driving, such as participating in virtual meetings while driving, have been on the upswing this year. Knowing what to do after motor vehicle accidents can protect your safety and your ability to pursue a lawsuit.

Immediately

If you can, immediately pull your vehicle over to a safe and illuminated place where bystanders can see you and the other motorist. Do not leave young children, pets, or adults with disabilities in a hot and locked vehicle.

Young children should stay in their car seats until a first responder assesses them for injuries. Children and non-ambulatory elderly adults should remain in the vehicle if it is not hot.

After you park, see if you or your passengers have injuries. Call first responders immediately if anyone has even minor injuries. If you do not know the location, have someone provide it when you call 9-1-1. Stay on the call until the dispatcher says you can hang up.

In Maryland, you must call police if someone is injured, a vehicle cannot be safely moved, there is an unlicensed driver, the crash is a hit-and-run and there is  public property damage.

If police do not come, go to a police station, and complete a report. Obtain a copy of their report which may be needed for legal action or an insurance claim.

Other drivers

Before leaving your vehicle, make sure your valuables are concealed and secure. Be extra careful if other drivers show any road rage.

Engaging in small talk and asking whether anyone needs medical assistance is appropriate. But do not make any admissions, apologies, express anger or blame the accident on anyone. Do not make a side deal or accept or pay cash instead of filing an insurance claim even if the other motorist offers a large sum or says they have no insurance.

You and your passengers should not say that they are uninjured. Tell anyone who asks that a doctor needs to assess whether there was an injury.

Information

Information exchanged with other motorists should be limited to name and contact information, insurance company and policy number, driver’s license and plate number, accident location and vehicle type, model, and color. Talk to witnesses and get their contact information.

Take pictures or videos of the damage to both cars and accident scene. Note the weather and if there were any injuries.

Write down or record everything you remember about the crash. Save bills and medical records.

An attorney can advise you on your options if you are injured in a car accident. They can help protect your rights in negotiations and legal proceedings.