IMPORTANT: If an accident occurs: Remain Calm.
1: Stop! Do not leave the scene.
2: Turn on warning lights, four-way flashers and determine if anyone is injured.
4: No two accidents are the same. If there are injuries or you need help with traffic control call 911 first. Otherwise, Call YOUR Office. The office can call police & medical if needed. You will be busy…
5: Take pictures of the scene, to show position & direction of vehicles. Include skid marks if any. Use as many pictures as needed, take close-ups and wide shots.
The disposable camera can’t be re-used so take plenty of pictures. THIS IS HUGE!! Pictures will be the #1 evidence to protect the company and YOU!
IMPORTANT NOTE: If police arrive they will be #1 concerned with any injuries. #2 they will want the vehicles moved to keep the flow of traffic. They will not care one bit that by moving the vehicles they are destroying evidence that may prove who was at fault. So you can’t wait to start taking pictures.
Smart phone pictures are good because you can take as many as needed. However, digital pictures can be altered so they sometimes do not hold the same weight in court as film-based photographs. However, any picture is better than none. If you have a disposable camera, use it as well as your smart phone. The only bad picture is one you don’t take!
Take most of your pictures “landscape” or horizontal like the picture below. The resolution is higher than pictures taken “portrait” or vertical.
Feel free to take pictures of people. Take pictures that show license plates of witnesses.
The most important pictures are those that show the “final resting place” of the vehicles after an accident. That said, if the police are forcing you to move, at least get these. The pictures of skid marks, damage, debris fields etc can still be taken after you move.
6: Take pictures of the damage to the other vehicle. (We can see our own damage when the vehicle gets back to the yard/office. Do take pictures of the position of our vehicle at the scene.)
7: Do not discuss facts, fault or cause with anyone except licensed personnel such as police or company supervisors. Do not admit guilt or say you are sorry, even to police. Only an investigation can determine fault. THIS is VERY VERY important – when you say “I’m sorry” you may be very sorry someone is hurt. However, in court, the other attorney will use this to try and prove you were “Sorry for causing the accident”. You may even “think” you caused the accident. Remember YOU do not have enough facts to know that yet.
It may be that you were partially at fault. However, if you admit fault at the scene when you are upset and/or shaken up it makes it much harder to establish each parties true contribution later.
8: Identify any witnesses and obtain names & phone #’s, pass out witness cards, or collect business cards. If uncooperative, get license plate numbers. (take a picture of them and their plate.)
9: When reporting to police, point out any cones & barricades, construction site postings, your warning lights being on, your flags, any reflective tape or triangles, the slow speed at which you were moving. Most of their reports will involve two cars, so they are not used to observing these items or putting them in their reports. It may not work, but if these things get into the report, it can be a big help. Ask for the officers business card, they all have them. When the adrenaline wears off, you won’t remember their name.
10: Even if the police are taking a report, you must still obtain information from the other party(ies). It can be weeks before the police report will be available, and they may not get all the witness or insurance information. In some areas, unless there is an injury, the police will refuse to make/file a report. (they might not even show up without an injury)
Note: Police may be busy and miss witnesses. Get at least a name & phone # or write down their license plate number.
Items you will need to record:
Name, Address & Phone of driver and passengers
Drivers license # of driver
Vehicle Make, Model, color and LICENSE Plate
Insurance information: Company & Policy #
11. Tip, take pictures of the other parties drivers license, insurance, license plate, the inside of their car. You still need to write this stuff down, but this is a great back up and can reveal things you might have missed.
12. Take pictures of the other driver, passengers, and witnesses. Be aware they can sometimes get a little weird about this. So you can just have them in the shot while it looks like you are taking pictures of the accident scene or some damage.
OK, #12 is odd. You may not have heard of this. But people lie. Say someone has a suspended license or too many tickets. They will often try to say the passenger was driving. The Big Mac or Starbucks all over their shirt also tells a story. Of course, there may not be a “story”, but take the picture and figure it out later.
14: Stay calm, relax, be observant – you may someday have to testify. Note the details.
15: Carefully review the above, have you skipped anything?
16. Keep a list like this in your vehicle (and your personal car). Right after an accident – emotions run very high, you may be injured, it is very easy to forget some of these steps. Get this list out. Double check, did you forget anything?