What to Do if You Are in a Car Accident?
A serious car accident can turn your world upside down in the blink of an eye. An injury can put you or a loved one who was in the vehicle in the hospital and out of work as medical bills and other losses mount.
There are steps you can take to protect your rights after a car accident. If the crash was not your fault, you should not have to bear the costs alone.
Our Rhode Island Car Accident Recovery Manual is a handy checklist of actions you should take if you have been in a crash. We urge you to review it and to print out copies to keep in each of your vehicles.
For more information and personal assistance with the aftermath of a car accident in Rhode Island, contact a Providence car accident lawyer from Marasco & Nesselbush online or by phone for free consultation.
We work with accident victims like you to ensure you obtain the compensation you deserve for a full financial recovery.
Rhode Island Car Accident Recovery Manual
In Your Glove Box
- Vehicle registration
- Insurance Card
- Emergency contact numbers
Your In-Car Emergency Kit
Spare tire, jack, lug wrench
Multi-tool or tool kit
Cell phone charger
Flashlight with extra batteries
Blankets / sleeping bags (for winter driving)
What to Do After a Car Accident Checklist
- Care for people.
Calm yourself and check for injuries, then ask whether others are hurt.
- Call 911.
Report your accident to police even if there are no injuries. Request an ambulance if needed.
- Clear the roadway.
If your car is operable and blocking a lane of travel, move it to the side of the road.
- Stay put.
Do not leave the scene – you could be charged with hit and run. Turn on your hazard lights and stay in the car until help arrives.
Can You ID a Hit-and-Run Driver?
If the person who hit you flees the scene before police arrive, try to get the license plate number. Otherwise, try to get:
- The car’s make, model and color.
- A description of the driver.
- The direction the car left in, including street names. Security cameras may pick it up.
At the accident scene…
- Get emergency care.
If EMTs or police advise you to go to the emergency room, get into the ambulance.
- Gather driver and witness information.
Exchange information with the other drivers, including names, addresses, driver’s license numbers and insurance information. Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone who saw the accident happen.
- Document the scene.
Take photos or video of the positions of the cars and their damage. Photograph everything that helps tell the story of the accident:
- Debris or skid marks.
- Signs, trees or other damaged property.
- Hazardous conditions, like standing water, potholes, obstructed view.
- You and your passengers’ injuries.
- Cooperate with police.
Be calm and business-like. Answer police officers’ questions honestly, but answer only what’s asked. Do not speculate about what caused the accident. Do not admit or accept blame for the accident.
- Remove your car.
Once police have finished or otherwise instruct you, you may remove your car. You may need to contact a local towing service. If at all possible, do not leave your car at the accident scene.
Get a Rhode Island Police Report
The police officer handling your accident should give you an accident report number before leaving. You will need this number to obtain the crash report. It requires a small fee, but you need to get a copy.
The fee may be recoverable. Get police reports online 48 hours after the accident at GetCrashReports.com
. You may also send a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a $15 check or money order payable to “The State of Rhode Island” to:
Rhode Island State Police
311 Danielson Pike
North Scituate, RI 02857
In a mailed request, include the driver’s name, date of the accident and accident report number.
Home from the accident …
- Call your insurance company.
File a claim, but do not provide a recorded statement. Follow instructions for obtaining car repair estimates.
- Save accident documents
After you have decompressed, write down in your own words what happened. Create a file for all receipts, reports, photos and other records connected to the accident and your injuries. Save everything.
- See a doctor
Even if you do not feel hurt, a doctor may find serious injuries that do not cause symptoms right away. A doctor’s exam also documents your injuries. Follow the doctor’s orders for treatment.
Days after an accident …
- Call a car accident lawyer.
A lawyer can start helping you with a free consultation. Your attorney can investigate the accident and keep important evidence from being destroyed.
- Be wary of quick settlements.
The insurance company may offer a check before all your costs are known. Do not accept or sign anything without a lawyer’s advice.
- Get your car repaired.
If your insurer declares your car “totaled” and you disagree, discuss this with a lawyer. You can appeal the decision.
- Keep up with costs.
If you rent a vehicle or take public transportation while your car is being repaired, you can seek repayment. Save receipts for all crash-related expenses.
- Keep your accident to yourself.
Don’t discuss or boast about an anticipated lawsuit or settlement. Do not make posts to social media – they could jeopardize your claim.
Weeks after an accident …
- Concentrate on recovery.
Recovering from your injuries counts most. Continue to follow doctor’s orders for all treatment and medication. If you have an attorney, let him or her worry about your accident claim.