Car accidents are often shocking and traumatic experiences. While some collisions are purely accidental most car accidents are caused by negligent driving, and the negligent driver should be held accountable for any harm he or she caused. Many people involved in car accidents are stunned by the accident, however, and in the midst of trying to process what happened, they may fail to consider what actions they should take to preserve their rights and any evidence that may be needed to prove liability or damages in the future. If you were involved in a car accident it is important to know what actions to take to protect your right to seek compensation in the future.
The first thing you should do following a car accident is contact the police. Calling the police is important for several reasons. First, and most importantly, the police can help assess whether anyone was injured in the accident and assist anyone that sustained injuries in receiving the appropriate care. Secondly, the police will likely conduct an investigation into the cause of the accident and issue a report setting forth their findings following the investigation. The investigation will include taking the statements of the parties involved in the accident, and any witnesses to the accident. It is also helpful to obtain the contact information of any witnesses and take pictures of any damage to the vehicles involved in the accident or marks on the roadway. You should also obtain the insurance information of the other driver involved in the accident.
In certain circumstances, you are also required to report a car accident to the Department of Transportation (DOT), depending on which state you reside in. Fore example, in Illinois an accident must be reported if it results in injuries or death, or property damage exceeding $1,500. A crash report must be filed within 10 days of the accident and must include certain information such as when and where the accident occurred, information regarding the parties involved in the accident and an explanation of what happened. If a person required to report an accident fails to do so it can result in the suspension of his or her license. Thus, it is important to report accidents to the DOT in a timely manner.