If you’ve been in a car crash, stay calm do not leave the scene of the crash until it is appropriate to do so, and you have had time to assess the situation. In a crash where someone has been injured or killed, you may face criminal penalties for leaving the scene before the proper authorities arrive. According to M.G.L. c. 90, § 24, “[W]hoever without stopping and making known his name, residence and the register number of his motor vehicle goes away after knowingly colliding with or otherwise causing injury to any other vehicle or property… shall be punished by a fine of not less than twenty dollars nor more than two hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not less than two weeks nor more than two years, or both.” If this crash resulted in the death of a person, the driver involved may be, “…punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than two and one-half years nor more than ten years and by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars nor more than five thousand dollars….”
Follow these 6 steps after the car crash:
- Exchange information.
Make sure to get the names, contact information, insurance information, driver’s license, vehicle information, and license plates of all the other drivers involved. Take photos of everything. This is important because M.G.L. c. 90, § 26, requires that “Every person operating a motor vehicle which is involved in an accident in which any person is killed or injured or in which there is damage in excess of one thousand dollars to any one vehicle or other property shall, within five days after such accident, report in writing to the registrar…” You can find the Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report on the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles official website.
- Call the Police, even if you think the accident was minor.
When the police arrive, request that the officers create a crash report. If the police don’t want to create a crash report, then you should insist that they do so. Getting a police report that documents the facts of the crash and the parties involved is vital information for any potential lawsuit in the future.
- Take pictures of the scene of the accident and the damage of the vehicles.
Take pictures of the scene of everything! Take pictures of the cars involved in the crash. Take pictures of license plates of the cars involved in the crash. Take pictures of cars of witnesses. Take pictures of the area where the crash occurred. The more pictures the better.
- Gather Witness Information.
Write down any and all the witnesses’ names, their contact information, driver’s licenses, and license plates. A witness can provide testimony that decides a lawsuit.
- Notify your insurance company about the crash.
Contact your insurance company to notify them about the crash,damage to you or your car, as well as any injuries you may have suffered. Failure to timely notify your insurer of a crash may result in them refusing to provide you with insurance coverage.
- Be careful information you share regarding the crash.
Do not admit fault to anyone at the site of the car crash. You may still be in shock from the crash and have not had time to process the causes or events leading up to the crash. Admitting fault immediately after the crash may jeopardize any potential claim you have.
Before you talk to your insurance company or the insurance company for the other driver, it is vital that you contact one of the experienced car crash lawyers at Mitcheson & Lee. Talking to the insurance companies before you’ve consulted with an experienced lawyer may harm any potential personal injury claim you have in the future.