Accident Guide in Washington
Precautions to Follow After an Accident
If you're involved in a car accident, there are certain procedures to follow, contingent, of course, on the extent of the collision.
- Don't flee. Gather your wits and assess. Try to move your vehicle from the road. This helps prevent another accident and allows emergency vehicles easier access.
- Stay to the side of the road. You were already involved in one accident, you don't need another.
- Turn the engine off, if it's still running.
- Avoid all urges to smoke. Spilled fuel combined with a discarded match makes for a volatile situation.
- If you collided with a telephone pole be alert to the possibility of downed electrical wires.
- Try to alert approaching traffic. Flares work best.
- If you slammed into an unoccupied vehicle, try to locate the owner. If unsuccessful, leave a note. But just don't write "sorry." Include your name and contact information. Then report it to the local authorities, so if the note blows away, you won't be charged with a hit-and-run.
- Exchange information with all involved drivers. Be sure to get name, address, phone number, license number, and insurance information.
- Get names and numbers of witnesses.
- If you're carrying a camera, snap photos of damage to all involved vehicles. This will help in the event of an insurance claims dispute.
- Do not attempt to move the injured. Removing a person from a burning vehicle or other imminent danger is the lone exception.
When to File a Collision Report
If law enforcement investigates your accident, you are not required to file a collision report. Otherwise, you MUST file a report within four days of the accident. Get a blank accident report from your local police department, sheriff's office, or the Washington State Patrol.
Collision Report Information on Your Driving Record
No fault or cause of accident will be listed to your record. Instead the DOL will add: date of accident, number of vehicles involved and whether they were moving or parked or had occupants, and whether any injuries or deaths resulted from the accident.