What is the first thing I should do when involved in an auto accident in the State of Washington?
You are driving on the streets of Washington, following the Rules of the Road, when out of nowhere, a car comes flying out of a side street and slams into the passenger side of your car, causing your car to spin around, coming to a stop in the middle of the street.
Accidents happenThis is a daily occurrence on the streets of Washington. Injuries sustained in these car wrecks range from soft tissue injuries, to catastrophic and sometimes deadly results. There is an average of 500 fatal car accidents in Washington per year. For purposes of this article, I will discuss what you should do in the situation of non-life-threatening injuries.
Most drivers who have just been hit by another are in a state of shock within seconds of the impact. Knowing what's the first thing you should do can be difficult under these circumstances.
First course of actionFirst, assess the situation. Are you able to move without extreme pain? If so, determine if your car is blocking traffic. Can you drive your car to the shoulder of the road or to a safe place like a nearby parking lot? If you are stationary in the middle of a street, the chances of a second accident from another car are likely, so the quicker you can get your car to a place of safety, the better.
Second course of actionNext, call the police. Sometimes the police will ask if there are serious injuries and/or significant property damage and if there is not, they may just tell you to exchange information with the other driver. However, even in the case of having little to no damage, it is always good practice to call the police to assure that the accident will be reported and documented.
Are you injured?Often times, you may not feel any immediate pain. This could be a result of the shock you are experiencing from being in the accident. Most soft tissue injuries will only begin to rear their ugly heads a few hours, or days later. At the point that this type of injury starts to cause pain, you will likely need to seek medical attention. Who is going to pay for your doctor visit(s)? At this point you will be much better served to be able to obtain a police/accident report to give to your insurance company or that has information you need to access the other driver*s insurance information.
What if the police won*t come to the scene?If the police do not come out, exchange information with the other driver. Be sure to exchange the following information with the other driver:
1. Driver*s License Number and state issued
2. Phone number and contact information
3. Insurance Company and policy number
4. Type of vehicle that hit you and the license plate state and number.
5. Name of the legal owner of the vehicle that hit you
Pull out your cell phone and take a picture of the other driver*s license plate, driver*s license, and any damage to the other driver*s vehicle.
What the law in Washington requires you to doIn the State of Washington, it is the law to exchange information whenever involved in a vehicle accident In fact, it is a criminal act to fail to do so.
Some final thoughtsLuckily, most motor vehicle accidents do not result in catastrophic injuries. It is important, however, even in the case of what seems at the time to be no injuries, to exchange the necessary information. Hopefully, you will not need any of the information you exchange, but in case you do, you will be thankful you got it.