In part I of this post, I offered a 14-point suggested “to-do” list in the unfortunate event that you get into a car accident involving significant property damage, injuries, or death. This post covers the first three suggestions – stay at the scene, determine if anyone at the accident scene needs medical treatment, and call the police – and explains why they are so important to your personal injury lawsuit.
- Stay at the Scene. It is imperative that you stay at the scene for at least two reasons. First, it’s the law. If you leave the scene of an accident where someone suffered significant injuries or died, you could face very serious criminal penalties. (California Vehicle Code section 20001 – felony hit-and-run). Second, it is your best chance to gather as much information as you can regarding the accident. As I will discuss in later posts, this is the time that you can photograph the accident scene, talk to witnesses, and exchange information. The information you gather at the scene will be critical to your attorney’s ability to litigate your personal injury case in the future, so you do not want to miss this important opportunity.
- Determine if anyone at the accident scene need medical treatment. If people are severely injured, call 911 IMMEDIATELY and ask for an ambulance. Tell the operator that there was an accident, and that passengers are injured. If you can help take care of the injuries before the ambulance arrives, then do so. However, if a driver or passenger complains of neck or back pain, DO NOT move them until the ambulance arrives. It is possible that moving a driver or passenger with spinal injuries could cause even more harm. Let the trained medical professionals help those with neck or back injuries, and remove them from the vehicle in the safest possible manner.
- Call the police. In cases involving significant property damage, significant injuries, or death, it is essential that the police arrive and investigate the crash. Be sure to get all of the investigating officer’s names, badge numbers, and departments so that you (or your attorney) can contact them at a later time. Request that the police department prepares a report concerning the crash. As I indicated in point 1, this is the best time to gather information. The police report will likely include the individuals involved in the crash, witness statements, insurance information, and other helpful information for your personal injury case.
If you or a loved one have any questions, or wish to discuss your car accident case, please contact the Orange County personal injury attorneys at Ford & Diulio PC at 714-384-5540 or email us here.