What NOT to do following an accident: Leaving the Scene

Say you are involved in a car accident, but a pretty small one.  No one seems to be injured, and each vehicle has only minor-appearing damage.  You’re safe to leave, right?

Actually you’re not.  Whether the accident seems serious or not, you ALWAYS have to stop, check on the other person involved,  exchange insurance information and report it to law enforcement.

What To Do . . . from the Washington State Patrol:

Keep Safety First:

  • Drivers involved in minor collisions with no serious injuries should move vehicles to the side of the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. Leaving vehicles parked in the middle of the road or busy intersections can result in additional collisions and injuries.
  • If a vehicle cannot be moved, call 911 and wait for assistance. Drivers and passengers should remain in the vehicles with seat belts fastened for everyone’s safety until help arrives.
  • Make sure to turn on hazard lights and set out warning lights, flares, or hazard triangles, if possible.

Exchange Information:

  • Exchange the following information at a safe location off the roadway:
  • Name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver license number, and license plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle.
  • If the driver’s name is different from the name of the insured, establish what the relationship is and take down the name and address for each individual.
  • Make a written description of each car, including year, make, model, and color and the exact location of the collision and how it happened.

When Do You Have to Report an Accident?

Washington law requires that you report every accident where there is personal injury.  These must be reported immediately to the police so they can respond and do their own report.  If it even looks like someone might be hurt, call 911 just to be safe.  If it’s obviously just a fender-bender, exchange information (above), and then you can go on your merry way.

Property Damage – but how do you know when there is $700 in damages?  Think about it.  The last time you  had any body work done on your car it was probably more than $700.  $700 probably wouldn’t replace your windshield, let alone a quarter-panel or a bumper assembly.  So use your own best judgement, and if there is more than a scratch or two on your car, you should think about reporting it to the State Police.  This is easy to do, you can just go online, within three days of the accident, and complete their forms.

So be safe, be polite, don’t  admit fault, and get the information you need from the other driver.  Then call the car accident lawyers at The Advocates!  When someone is injured in a car wreck we can deal with both insurance adjusters so you never have to.  Call us at 206-452-4200.  No cost to you until we win or settle your case!