All drivers are responsible for knowing what to do if involved in an accident, and following some basic steps could help protect your legal and financial interests regardless of who is at fault in the collision.
Be sure to stop your car and remain at the accident scene. Under Connecticut General Statutes § 14-224, anyone knowingly involved in a motor vehicle accident on Connecticut roads must immediately stop, render any necessary assistance, and provide contact information to another party (such as the other driver or a police officer). Be wary of exiting your vehicle, however, in the event that a minor accident is only a pretext for luring you out of your vehicle.
Assess the accident scene to ensure safety, and move to another area if the conditions present additional safety concerns. Be aware of the traffic situation and other potential dangers, such as fire. Try to make the scene as safe as possible by activating hazard lights and using flares, if available.
After ensuring personal safety, call the authorities to report any injuries at the accident scene and request medical assistance. Even if there were no injuries in the accident, the police should be notified so that they may conduct an investigation.
Once help is on the way, document the scene and exchange information. Gathering key information will help in the event of a future claim, so try to obtain names, license plate numbers, contact information, and insurance policy information for all other drivers involved in the accident. Record contact information for all known witnesses to the accident before they leave the scene. Take photographs of the scene and vehicle damages.
Try to limit your interaction with the other driver to guard against possible “road rage.” Remain calm, even if the other driver does not. Do not admit fault for the accident because that is for the police to determine, and do not apologize for the accident because it might be used against you in future court proceedings.
Seek medical attention to make sure that you do not have serious injuries. It is a good idea to be checked out by emergency responders and hospital personnel because many accident victims do not notice injuries until hours (or even days) after the accident due to the initial shock of being involved in an accident. Be sure to follow up with your primary care doctor if recommended by hospital personnel.
Once time allows, consider notifying your own insurance company about the accident, but do not give a recorded statement until after you have an opportunity to consult with an attorney. Do not speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Connecticut law provides that vehicle owners may choose where repairs are done.
Consider hiring an attorney if you suffer an injury in a car accident. An experienced attorney can communicate with the insurance company, file a claim, address many common problems, and help ensure that your legal and financial interests are protected.
-Eamonn Wisneski, Esq.
Disclaimer: While this blog provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call one of our lawyers at (860) 316-2741. The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship.