First, don't leave the scene unless you like hit-and-runs.

If nobody is injured severely and the cars are still drivable, just exchange insurance information, phone numbers, and driver's license numbers, and note any vehicle damage. File a police report even if there's no damage, in case the other person decides to extort you later by claiming nonexisting damage or injury. If there is serious injury or damage, call for help.

I was once advised to keep a disposable camera in the car. You can visually record damages in an accident, snap suspicious activities in and around your neighborhood, and have a lasting memory of all the drunks you carted home when you were the designated driver.

Okay, IANAL, but here is what I know, from my experiences and some other peoples'. This is advice for minor fender-benders and bumper-kisses; If it's a 90 car pile-up, well, all bets are off.

Don't say anything ambiguous - When giving an offical statement, phrases like "I guess", "I'm not sure" or "maybe" are to be avoided. Either you are sure of what you know, or you don't know it. Yes or No. If a sentence requires you to add the phrase "...but I might be wrong..." on the end of it, it is better left unsaid.

Be Cooperative - I don't care if someone just totaled your Gold-Plated SuperCar, calm the fuck down. You are going to get nowhere by yelling and accusing. If the other party is clearly at fault, please resist the urge to insult their lineage and gentailia -- it will only make things worse for you. If one party becomes beligerent, the other party will get defensive, and then you have a less chance of resolving the issue like the opposable thumbed bipeds you are.

Drop your Ego - This goes well with the above element. You might think you're the worlds best driver, but if you just got in a traffic incident, there was a problem somewhere; you need to be open the fact that it just might, in some small way, be your fault. Automatically taking offense at everything said about you is a sure way if dragging things out for months.

Get Your Vehicle Towed Where You Want - In a road accident, it is vitally important for the roadway to be cleared as quickly as possible, so cars will often end up being towed immediately after the officers make their offical report. The problem here is that they will seldom ask you where you want the car towed *to*. Unless you specify a place for the car to be towed to, they will usually tow it to their lot and you will then be required to pay a storage fee, which can sometimes be in the hundreds-of-dolars (USD, of course). If you have the option, get them to tow it to your home, or a friends place, or anywhere that will not charge said fee.

If you are in BC (as I am) and are in a car accident (as I just was) and there are no emergency vehicles attending (police or ambulance), there are some important things to do:

  1. Get witnesses. The woman walking her dog or an uninvolved driver who saw the accident and stopped to make sure everyone was ok: get their names and phone numbers. This is very important in case of conflicting information later on.
  2. Get the license plates of the cars involved and the driver’s licence number of the drivers involved. Note the make and colour of the cars involved, and if there were any passengers in any of the cars. Ask for the driver’s names, phone numbers and addresses.
  3. Write down when the accident occurred, where it occurred (cross streets), what the weather was like, how many lanes of traffic, and so on.
  4. Draw a picture of what happened while it is still fresh in your mind. It’s amazing how quickly things get forgotten.
  5. Don’t get involved in an altercation. Don’t get mad, it’s just a car and you’re all right.
  6. After you leave the scene (armed with all this information), find a phone and call into ICBC (or your insurance) and make your claim. Don’t assign emotional blame. If someone hit you from behind, explain that, but don’t start insulting the other driver to the claims operator.
  7. If you are injured, or even think you might be, go see a doctor. Tell them what happened and be straight. Soft tissue damage is very bad, especially in the lower back region.
  8. Don’t be a jackass and try to defraud the insurance company.
Here in England, you are not required to inform the police of an accident unless:

* Somebody was injured
* You caused damage to a car or any property, or you injured an animal, and you can't locate the owner, having made a reasonable attempt.
* The other driver(s) refuse to give you their details.

You are required by law to stop at the scene of an accident that you're involved in, and you must provide anyone affected by the accident with:

* Your name, address and the car registration
* Name and address of the car owner, if it's not you.
* Your Insurance details.

One more thing which hasn't already been mentioned (Which may only apply in England)- You should never admit liability following an accident as many insurance companies state that your insurance will be invalid if you do.

Unfortunately I don't know much about the laws in other countries, but I do know that in Germany they have a Good Samaritan Law which makes it a legal requirement for the first person to arrive at the scene of an accident, to help people who may be stuck or injured and to call emergency services where required.

I've only been involved in one accident which I consider to be moderately serious, and at least fifty cars must have passed us, including one police car (It was rush hour) before someone (in a big 4x4) actually stopped to help us tow the two cars out of the path of oncoming traffic and then let us use their mobile phone to arrange for the cars to be towed away...
In Australia, the police advise to call 000 (emergency line) only if:
  • Someone is obviously hurt, or if there's a chance of a head wound or shock
  • There's over $500 worth of damage to the cars.
As the above write-ups state, exchange names, licence numbers, car license plates, and all that jazz. Get the contact names and numbers of witnesses, if possible, and write down your version of events quickly. They'll come in handy later.

It is wise to get the contact details of the other driver even if the damage seems minor. You might not immediately know if the fender-bender has cracked the radiator or done some other damage, and it could be expensive later. Of course, if the accident's your fault and the other person doesn't ask for your name or number, get out of there! (Obviously, this is the irresponsible course of action.)

An anecdotal hint*

If you are ever in an accident where: you can leave the car and return home by another means of transport, and go and report the accident in the morning/ the next day. It is possible to claim that you had a head injury and were disoriented and merely wanted to go home, and came in to report it as soon as possible. You can't be reliably tested for drugs or alcohol (as long as you weren't drinking/ smoking pot hours before you went in) and are home free.

You shouldn't be charged with 'leaving the scene of an accident' or anything like that unless the officer in charge of the report is very lame. Of course, IANAL and anything is possible, so this is merely anecdotal.

* I was told this by a police officer, in earnest. He didn't seem to be joking, anyway.

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