The first thing you should do following every motor vehicle collision, no matter how minor, is to stay at the scene. It is against the law to leave the scene of a collision without leaving your information. This applies even to minor collisions. Minnesota Statute 169.09 Subd. 1 states that “The driver of any motor vehicle involved in a collision shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the collision, or as close to the scene as possible, and reasonably investigate what was struck…The stop must be made without unnecessarily obstructing traffic.”
The next thing to do at the scene is to check everyone involved, including yourself, for injuries. Offer assistance to anyone in need of help, to the extent you are reasonably able. But if anyone is complaining of severe neck or back pain, it may be best not to move them. Call for an ambulance immediately if you suspect that anyone may require medical attention.
If the motor vehicle collision is more than just a simple fender bender, or if you believe injuries may be involved, you should call 911 as soon as possible. If you are unsure of whether to call the police, err on the side of caution and make the call. The responding police officer can then decide whether to write a formal report, or simply assist the parties in exchanging information. Investigating police officers will typically talk to the parties involved, talk to any witnesses, record the identities of the drivers and passengers, record the vehicle and insurance information of those involved, and will make a record of many other factors including liability, weather, road conditions, and vehicle damage. If the police officer writes a report, there will be a written record documenting all of this information. Police officers can also assess the need for medical attention at the scene, assist in calling for tows, and direct traffic if necessary.
Another important thing to do at the scene is to exchange information with the other drivers involved in the crash. You should provide your name, address, and insurance information to the other drivers. In return, you should receive the same information from them. Make sure to note the other drivers’ insurance company names and policy numbers. If police respond to the scene, they will sometimes collect the information themselves and create a written police report containing that information. Other times, the police officers will simply facilitate the exchange of information between the parties.
If possible, make your own record of everything at the scene. Write down names, phone numbers, addresses, insurance information, license plate numbers, the time of day, etc. Also, take pictures at the scene. Take pictures of the vehicle damage, the position of the vehicles, etc. This is much easier to do now that most people carry cell phones with cameras. Write down any information you think you may need later, and more. Claims involving injuries can take months and even years to resolve. Memories fade, and details are often lost if they are not properly recorded. If you make a thorough record at the scene, it will help you remember details later on.