If an accident occurs:
- Try to remain calm and thoughtful. If you or anyone in your car is injured, stay in the car unless there is danger of fire or another accident.
- Use your cell phone to get help from the police and medical personnel.
- Avoid making statements about responsibility to other drivers, witnesses, the police or insurance representatives without talking to your own insurance representative. Assist the police with their official report. Confirm that you and passengers wore seat belts.
- Michigan law requires motorists involved in minor car accidents to move their vehicles off of the main roadway, as failure to do so could cause a secondary accident.
In any accident, you should obtain the following:
- Information about the accident: You may wish to take notes about how the accident occurred, such as the date, time and location of the accident, direction of travel of the vehicles involved in the accident, impact location of both cars, length of car skids, if applicable, and what the cars were doing at the time of the collision. If there are any physical damages to either vehicle, take photographs of the damages.
- Information about the other driver: Name, address, driver’s license number, insurance information, license plate number, and vehicle make and model.
- Information about witnesses: Name, address, telephone number, and any statements made by witnesses.
- Information about the location: You may wish to take notes about where the accident occurred, the road conditions, speed limits, traffic control devices, weather, and lighting.
- Information about police officers: Ask the police officers who investigate the traffic scene to provide you with a business card with the “incident number” so that you can obtain an accident report. Most officers will provide this information to you, even if you don’t ask.
Keep in mind; if litigation results from the accident, you may have to share your notes with somebody you are suing or somebody who is suing you.
Following an accident, you should do the following:
- Even if you think you are at fault, do not admit liability. There may be factors that you don’t know, which played a role in the accident, and it may turn out that the other driver was more at fault than you.
- Do not make statements to anybody at the accident scene, except for the police. When you speak to the police, tell them only the facts of what happened. Let the officers draw their own conclusion from the facts.
- If you or your passengers receive injuries, insist on being transported to a hospital in an ambulance. In all instances, obtain medical treatment immediately. Tell medical personnel about everything you feel may be physically wrong.
- Report the accident to your insurance agent immediately. Do not speak to the other driver’s insurance representatives.
- If there are serious medical injuries or property damage, seek counsel of a lawyer as soon as you can. Make an appointment and report all injuries to your family doctor within a day or two. Also, write a daily injury condition journal. Comply with your doctor’s instructions for faster recovery.
- Retain copies of all medical bills and related accident expenses, such as towing and repair, as well as costs for travel, parking, etc.
- Document any income loss associated with the accident.
Robert L. Blamer is a partner in our Livonia office and head of the Firm’s plaintiff’s practice group. He focuses his practice on helping injured people in many types of negligence actions, workers’ compensation claims, and Social Security disability claims. He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.