What Should I Do at the Scene of a Car Accident?

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The immediate steps that you take after an accident can have a direct impact on whether your claim is successful with your or the at-fault party’s insurance company and the amount of compensation you ultimately receive. There are several things you should do at the scene of a car accident in Chicago to protect your safety and right to compensation.

The State of Illinois publication, Rules of the Road, summarizes these steps as:

  1. If you’re able to do so, pull off the road and park your car in a secure, well-lit public place that isn’t obstructing traffic.
  2. Assist any hurt person as needed or requested.
  3. Immediately call 9-1-1 and wait until police arrive.
  4. If necessary, use emergency flashers and flares to warn approaching vehicles.
  5. Make a list of everyone who was involved and get their names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, and vehicle registration plates.

You will want to report the accident, seek medical attention, and preserve evidence in your claim. Read further for a more in depth look at what you can do at the scene of a car accident in Chicago and afterwards to improve the success of your car insurance claim.

What Should I Do at the Scene of a Car Accident Infographic

Get to a Safe Place: Pull Over

The first thing you should do after an accident is to get yourself and your passengers to a safe place. If your car is still operational, move it off of the road. If it’s not, turn on your hazard lights and wait for help.

Illinois law requires you to pull over after an accident occurs. The Illinois Rules of the Road guide published by the Illinois Secretary of State explains that if you leave the scene of a crash, you may be subject to criminal charges. If the accident results in personal injury or death, the Secretary of State’s office will revoke your driver’s license or motorcycle license. If you leave the scene of a crash that involves property damage of more than $1,000, your license can be suspended.

Signal the Accident

You want to be sure that you do not accidentally cause more collisions, so you should try to alert other drivers to the accident scene. You can set out traffic cones or road flares if you have them. Also, activate your emergency lights. If you have a reflective triangle, set it up behind your car to warn approaching vehicles.

Help Victims Who Need It

Next, check if anyone at the site of the car accident was injured and needs medical assistance, including:

  • You
  • Your passengers
  • The other driver
  • The other driver’s passengers
  • Any bystanders

If anyone is injured, try to keep them immobilized and in the same position if it is safe to do so. Call for emergency services and request an ambulance. Do not move an injured person away from the scene of the accident unless it is absolutely necessary, as this could exacerbate their injuries.

Call 9-1-1

You always want to call 9-1-1 after an accident. This will help ensure that a police report is filed and will get you or other parties the medical treatment they need. Getting medical care should always be the immediate priority.

File an Accident Report

If no one was injured and police do not respond to the accident, you should still file an accident report. Even if it was a minor fender bender and you are not sure you will file a claim, it is still required by law to report accidents. The Illinois Rules of the Road handbook says that a driver has 30 minutes to report a crash once it occurs. If the driver is injured and cannot make the report, his or her passenger can make it. You must also make a report to the Illinois Department of Transportation within 10 days of the accident.

Avoid Fines and Jail Time

Drivers who fail to report an auto accident may be fined up to $2,500 and sentenced up to one year in jail.

Exchange Information

Exchange contact and other information with the other driver to identify each other and to file an insurance claim. Try to get the following information at the scene of a car crash:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Driver’s license number
  • License plate number
  • Make and model of vehicle
  • Vehicle owner’s name
  • Insurance company and insurance policy number from their insurance card

Making sure that you exchange critical information such as insurance information is incredibly important to your ability to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. If you have been in an accident and have questions about the insurance claims process, contact The Kryder Law Group, LLC today for a free consultation. Our law offices are ready to help you.

Limit What You Say

It is important that you only communicate the necessary information to the other driver and the law enforcement officer who responds to the scene of the car crash. Do not apologize or admit fault because this may be used against you later. Even if you think you might have caused the accident, do not say so. The insurance company could use your words against you later. If you are asked whether you are injured, only say that you don’t know or that you will have to wait for a medical evaluation to be certain.

Also, keep this tip in mind later when you talk an insurance professional from the insurance company and do not agree to give a recorded statement unless advised to do so by your car accident lawyer. Making sure you limit what you say to an insurance provider or an insurance adjuster after an auto accident could be key to getting the recovery you need and deserve to cover your medical bills, damages, and other losses you experienced.

Talk to Eyewitnesses

If there were other people who saw the accident and stopped, ask for their names and contact information. They could be helpful later if there is a dispute about what happened. You can also ask them to write down a statement describing what they saw. This information can be helpful for your personal injury lawyer later when they negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company.

Take Pictures of the Scene

If possible, try to take pictures at the accident scene to document it. Do not move your vehicle from the accident scene until you have taken pictures. The accident scene may be quickly cleaned up, so it is important that you are able to preserve evidence. If you have a camera or a smartphone, take pictures of the following:

  • The damage to all vehicles involved in the accident
  • The positions of the vehicles before they are moved
  • The road conditions and any traffic signs or signals in the area
  • The weather conditions at the time of the accident
  • Your injuries (regardless of whether they are major or minor injuries)
  • Anything that may have contributed to the accident

Try to get pictures from different angles so that you can show others how the accident occurred. If you are not able to take pictures, ask someone else at the scene of the accident to do it for you.

Note Information About the Scene

As soon as possible, prepare a written summary about the moments leading up to the accident. Include what you last remember, including your speed and direction of travel. Also, look around the scene and take note of any traffic cameras or nearby businesses that may have recorded the accident. This information can be helpful to your injury lawyer when they communicate with the insurance company during the claims process.

What Should I Do if the Other Driver Does Not Stop at the Scene of the Accident?

If you are involved in a hit and run accident, it is important to try to get as much information about the other driver as possible. Try to get the following information:

  • A description of the other car, including the make, model, and color
  • The license plate number
  • A description of the driver
  • Any witnesses to the accident

If you cannot get this information, do not chase after the other driver. This could put you in danger. Instead, try to remember as many details as possible about the other car and driver.

If you are able to get a picture of the other car or the license plate, this can be helpful in tracking down the driver. You can also call the police to file a report. The police may be able to help you find the other driver.

If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you may be able to make a claim under your own insurance policy. If you have been the victim of a hit and run accident, it is important to contact a car accident lawyer who can assist with the claims process and help you investigate the accident and find the other driver.

Get Medical Attention

If you have any injuries, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you do not think your injuries are serious, it is still a good idea to be checked out by a medical professional. Some injuries, like concussions and whiplash, may not show symptoms immediately but can still be serious and lead to ongoing medical bills and medical expenses in the future.

The other driver’s insurance company may try to downplay your injuries or argue that they are not related to the accident. That is why it is important to get a medical evaluation as soon as possible after the accident. This will document your injuries and give you a baseline for future treatment.

Contact Us for More Help

Once you have done all you can do at the scene of a car accident, you can reach out to a lawyer to provide the help you need during this difficult time. The personal injury team at The Kryder Law Group, LLC can review the evidence you preserved at the scene of the crash, the police report, and documentation of your damages to determine the relief you might be able to receive for your serious injuries. We will handle communications with the insurance company and negotiate a fair settlement of your claim.

Contact us today at to take advantage of your free consultation and get your questions about the personal injury claim process or the insurance claim process answered by an experienced lawyer. We are here to fight for you and help you seek full and fair compensation.

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