A road accident is a scary event, no matter how minor the damage. Taking fast and efficient action can help move past the trauma of being in a road accident and help ensure legal protection. Although it may be difficult to think clearly in the moments following an accident, try to memorize basic emergency steps to help quickly clear up the situation.
No matter how important the legal ramifications of the accident may be, the first step is to ensure that everyone involved is safe. If possible, pull cars or vehicles off the road to prevent larger accidents or the possibility of being hit by oncoming traffic. Summon medical aid if there are injuries, and call the police immediately. If cars are smoking, or if a fire has been started by the accident, try to get everyone to a safe distance before continuing. Some medical experts recommend keeping people who may have suffered back or neck injuries in the car and motionless as long as there is no danger of fire or explosion.
Exchange all pertinent information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, license and insurance information. Ask witnesses to provide the same information, and request that they stay at the scene of the road accident until police arrive and can take statements. No one involved in an accident should leave the scene until authorities give permission; this may be considered a crime in some regions. Even if injuries or damage seems minor, it is important to exchange information in case problems are not immediately evident, as is the case with some internal injuries or pain delayed by shock.
If possible, use a camera or cell phone to take pictures of the accident from multiple angles, and write an account of what happened as soon as possible. With the chaos surrounding a road accident, it is easy to quickly become fuzzy on the details if only relying on memory. Clear notes and visual cues about the event, any injuries, and any conversation with witnesses or other people in the accident can be greatly helpful in the event of a lawsuit.
A road accident may simply be an accident, but often at least one involved party is legally considered to be at fault. This may mean that the at-fault party is responsible for the medical bills and car repairs of the other drivers or passengers involved. In addition, if a person has an accident when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or is intentionally driving recklessly, he or she may face criminal charges. For all of these reasons, it is important to get legal representation early on if a lawsuit looks likely.