No matter how safely you drive, chances are someday you'll be involved in an accident. Regardless of who is at fault, it's important that you know what to do. If you are involved in an accident, there are several things you are legally required to do.
First, you must stop at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible without blocking traffic. Only move vehicles from the accident scene if they are a traffic hazard. If this is the case, move them as soon as possible, even before the police arrive. Stay out of the path of oncoming traffic whenever possible. Many secondary collisions occur because the roadway is obstructed.
Second, give any help you can to someone that is obviously injured . Do not attempt to move an injured person from a damaged vehicle unless you have the necessary medical training or there is an immediate danger, such as a fire. Call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.
Third, report the accident to the police as quickly as possible, regardless of whether injury or property damage occurred, and regardless of whether the accident occurred on public or private property. The police officer will determine what report is needed and provide further instructions.
Fourth, exchange information with other people involved in the accident. This includes the name, address, driver's license number, and license plate numbers of all drivers and the names of injured parties and witnesses. Be sure to exchange insurance policy numbers with other vehicle owners and notify your own insurance company immediately. Do not argue or discuss fault with the other driver; save your comments for the officer and your insurance representative.
If an ambulance responds, you are not required to ride to the hospital in the ambulance if you are coherent and able to care for yourself. The paramedic will do a preliminary assessment of your condition and discuss your options. If you decline transport, you should see a doctor at the first opportunity. It is not possible to rule out unseen injuries at the scene.
If you have had an accident with an unattended vehicle or property, you must make a reasonable effort to find the property owner at the time of the accident. If no one can be located, leave a note that can be easily found at the scene of the accident. Include your name, address, driver's license number, the date and time of the accident, and an estimate of the damages. You must also report the accident to the police without unnecessary delay.
In addition, if you are the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in any personal injury, death, or total property damage of 500 dollars or more, you must also file a written accident report form (SR-1) with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident. Failure to file may result in the loss of your driver's license and vehicle registration.
Report copies can be obtained by visiting the police station or CHP office with which the report was filed.
For more information, or to file a traffic accident report, contact the Livermore Police Department at 371-4900.