What Should I Do If I Am In An Automobile Accident?

The action taken immediately after an accident may have great impact on the legal outcome. The following suggestions may help you protect your legal position should you be involved in an accident:

  1. Stop Your Car: It is against the law to leave the scene of an auto accident, whether the damage is limited to property or people are injured. You should stop immediately, leaving your car in the position of the accident unless doing so obstructs traffic or endangers life or property. If you have flares or reflectors, set them out to warn oncoming traffic.

    If you hit a parked car and no one is in the car you are required to leave a note with your name, address and telephone number in a visible place. Nebraska law also requires that the driver report the collision, by telephone or otherwise, to the appropriate peace officer. Leaving the scene of an accident can result in criminal charges carrying penalties that include fines, jail and the revocation of your driver´s license.

  2. Notify The Police And Render Aid: It is best to notify the police even if the other driver appears cooperative and offers to pay for damage. A police report may be helpful to you later if you have to sue.

    If someone is injured, make sure you tell the police when you call, so emergency medical care arrives as soon as possible. Help an injured person by keeping him or her warm and comfortable. Unless you are trained in first aid, it is usually best not to move an injured person. Telling the police to bring medical help might be the best way of helping.

    Make sure the officer hears your side of the story. If the officer fails to measure distances and you feel measurements are to your advantage, politely ask him or her to do so. If you have any witnesses who support your version of the facts, have them talk to the officer.

  3. Identify Others Involved: Try to stay calm and observe what is going on around you while you are waiting for the police to arrive. Take notes, make diagrams, and measure distances. Collect names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses favorable to you. For example, the little old lady on the corner tells you she saw the other driver run a red light. Be nice to her and get the information you or your lawyer may need to contact her later.

    Any driver involved in a car accident is required by law to furnish his or her name, address, driver´s license number, and vehicle registration information to the other parties.

  4. Do Not Admit Fault Regarding The Accident: Never admit fault, apologize, or offer to pay for damages, even if you think you caused the accident. Anything you say to the other driver, a potential witness, or the police may be brought out in court later to your disadvantage. Your immediate judgment that the accident was your fault might change when you discover additional factors such as the other driver was intoxicated or violated a traffic law.

  5. See Your Doctor Immediately If Injured: If you think you may be injured even slightly, it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible. The seriousness of some injuries does not become apparent until later. Seeing your doctor immediately serves to document your injury claim and prevent a legally detrimental time lapse between the accident and your report of injury. Do not accept a check or sign a release from liability for property damage or injuries until you have consulted an attorney.

  6. Fill Out And Send In Accident Report: If an auto accident results in injury or more than $1,500 property damage, you are required by law to complete and file an accident report within 10 days of the accident. A police officer usually provides the form at the scene of the accident. Accident report forms can be obtained at no cost from the Lincoln Police Department . It is a good idea to have an attorney check the report before you send it in. You should also keep a photocopy for your own files. At the same website you can and should obtain a copy of the police investigator´s report of the accident.

  7. Notify Your Insurance Company: Don´t delay in contacting your insurance company. Some policies require notification within a certain time or coverage may be denied. If you are not getting satisfactory cooperation from an insurance company, you should consult Student Legal Services or a private attorney.