Most of us have a rough idea of what to do if we are in a car accident. But what does the law require us to do?
First of all, you have a legal duty to remain at, or immediately return to, the scene of any motor vehicle accident you are involved in directly or indirectly. Failure to do this can result in a serious criminal charge.
The police must be called to the scene if there is any personal injury or damage to the vehicles that appears to exceed $1,000.00. Once a police officer arrives, you have a duty to co-operate and provide details of the accident for the officers report.
For accidents with minor damage, it is still a good idea to call the police. The police officer can take charge of the situation. If necessary, he or she will also be able to provide evidence later on about who was at fault.
When you are involved in an accident you have a legal duty to provide all possible assistance to anyone who needs it. Obviously, you should call an ambulance if someone is seriously injured. Regardless of the amount of damage involved, you also have a duty to provide the following information: your name and address, your vehicle permit number, and the name and address of the owner of the car (if it is not your car). This information must be provided, upon request, to the other driver, police, or even a witness.
There are some other things you should do (and some things you should definitely not do) at the scene of an accident.
- Get the names, address, phone number, vehicle permit number and insurance information from the other driver(s) involved;
- Get the names, address, and phone numbers of any witnesses;
- Write down anything anybody says about how the accident happened;
- Tell the police officer if you think another driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Move the vehicles, or anything that has fallen off them, unless they are a potential hazard to other motorists; or
- Sign documents or discuss the accident with anyone but the police.
When you get home, you should call your insurance agent immediately. Also, take photographs of any damage to your car. If the accident was at all serious, you should also contact a lawyer. If you experience any pain or other symptoms, see your doctor.