5. DO NOT accept responsibility for the accident, or say anything that could be construed as accepting responsibility. Car accidents often occur in the blink of an eye. Determining what happened – and more importantly, who was at fault – is often a complicated process that can only be reached after carefully evaluating the vehicles, the other physical evidence, and the witness testimony. To accept responsibility before that kind of evaluation is made is premature, and can have a potentially devastating effect on your personal injury case. So please don’t say anything regarding fault – even something as seemly innocent as “I’m sorry I hit you, I was texting on my phone and wasn’t paying attention – is everyone ok?”
6. DO NOT get into an altercation with any of the other drivers/passengers. Emotions can understandably run high when an accident occurs. But it is important to keep your emotions in check as much as possible. Gather information, ask for the police to arrive, and if others at the scene get hostile, communicate with them through the police officers, who are trained to diffuse tense situations. Verbal and/or physical confrontation increases the risk of saying something that may come back to haunt you, getting injured, getting sued, or getting arrested.
7. If possible, get witness information. If you are physically able to do so, gather witness information. Witnesses – particularly third-party witnesses (those who are not affiliated with any of the parties to the accident) – are critical to a case. Because they don’t have a proverbial “dog in the fight,” juries typically give their testimony greater weight than those who are affiliated with one side or the other. Your attorney will definitely want to interview and/or depose these important witnesses, so gather their information if you can.
8. If possible, take photographs of the accident scene and the damage to the vehicle(s). As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Taking photographs of the vehicles, the damage to the vehicles, and the immediate aftermath of the accident can be powerful evidence either at trial or at mediation.