Despite driving defensively and responsibly, even the safest of New Haven motorists may be involved in collisions, which can result in injuries or death for them, or their passengers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than two million people were injured in car accidents across the U.S. in 2012 alone. Additionally, over 20,000 people were killed. In order to help overcome the confusion and panic that can be experienced following collisions, it can be important for drivers to understand what to do to help protect themselves and their passengers.

Immediately after being involved in a motor vehicle accident, one of the most important things for drivers to do is to take a deep breath and try to remain calm. Then it is important for them to assess the situation, including determining whether they, or any of their passengers, were injured. In cases where there are injuries, or it does not seem safe to try and get out of the vehicle, it is generally advised that people remain in the auto and call 911 for emergency assistance. Additionally, it can be helpful to turn on the vehicle’s hazard lights while awaiting help.

Most people are aware that leaving the scene of an accident can result in serious, criminal charges. For that reason, motorists are typically advised to stop and stay at the crash scene until after they have provided their information to law enforcement officers. Typically, law enforcement officers will file an accident report, which may be useful in proving fault should legal action be taken by any of the people who were involved. There are some situations, such as for minor collisions, when the authorities may not come to the scene. It is generally acceptable for drivers in these cases to move their vehicles to a safe spot, out of traffic, while they exchange information with the other motorist. Drivers may also consider getting the contact details for any other passengers, as well as for people who witnessed the collision.

Beyond notifying authorities and exchanging information, it can also be useful for accident victims to document the scene. This includes taking photos of the scene and making notes of the crash details. While this post has provided an overview of the steps drivers should take immediately following a collision, it should be taken as general information and not be viewed as professional legal advice.

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