Is it Okay to Leave the Scene of an Accident?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of S. Randall "Randy" Hood with McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC.
After being involved in any kind of vehicle accident, it’s important to remain at the scene until the police arrive. Leaving before the police are able to assess the situation could be considered fleeing the scene, and it could create a good deal of trouble for you in the future. Of course, an exception to this rule is if you have already been transported away for emergency medical care. When this is the case, it’s a good idea to have a friend, loved one, or even an accident attorney attend the scene in your place to get the lay of the land and collect any evidence that could prove how the accident happened.
If the location is unsafe due to moving traffic, you can move to a nearby safe location.
Depending on where the accident occurred, it may simply not be safe to remain near the vehicles. When this is the case, you can move to a safe location in the vicinity of the accident. For example, if the crash occurred on a busy highway and traffic is continuing to try and maneuver around the wreck, move to the shoulder or look for an area out of the way of traffic but close enough to the wreck that police will have no trouble identifying you when they arrive. If there is no safe place to wait within sight of the vehicles, contact the police to let them know where you will be waiting in the interest of basic safety.
If threatened by the other driver, call the police and let them know where you can be located.
Another scenario in which it may be acceptable to leave the immediate scene of the accident is if the other driver is behaving in a threatening way toward you. Unfortunately, road rage and the heightened emotions during and after an accident can bring out the worst in people. If you feel that another person is threatening your safety, you may leave the scene to wait at a safe location. However, you must call the police and inform them of your concerns, as well as letting them know where you can be located. Leaving the accident without contacting the police to let them know your location may also be considered fleeing the scene, even if you know there was a valid reason for it.
While you are waiting at the scene, it’s a good idea to take some pictures.
After an accident, assuming you have not sustained any injuries prohibiting it, it’s a good idea to start collecting evidence. While the police will certainly collect some evidence of their own regarding the accident, certain elements of the collision could be overlooked. The police report is not always 100% correct.
That’s why it’s important to take pictures of any vehicles involved in the accident, as well as any damage dealt to the vehicles or surrounding property. If the injury is immediately visible, it’s a good idea to take a picture of that as well. In fact, even pictures documenting the weather or light conditions can help to later recreate when and how the accident occurred. If there were any witnesses to the accident, this is a good time to collect their contact information for later reference; if they agree to it, you may even choose to record their testimony regarding what they witnessed. All of this can go a long way towards proving your claim, ensuring you receive the help you need after a collision.
To learn more about when it’s okay to leave the scene of an accident, or for help figuring out your options for recovery after a car accident, reach out to an accident attorney in your area.