Questions and Answers
Auto Accident
What information should I gather at the accident scene?

Since many records now are confidential under the law, you may not be able to obtain the information that you need from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). So be sure to get as much correct and complete information as you can at the scene of the accident. You and the other driver should show each other your drivers' licenses, and vehicle registrations.

Record the other driver's name, address, date of birth, telephone number, driver's license number, driver’s license expiration date, and insurance company.

From the other driver’s car record the make, year, model, license plate number, license plate expiration date, and vehicle identification number. Also, record the names, addresses, telephone numbers and insurance companies of the other car's legal and registered owners.

If there are any passengers in the other car get their names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

If there are any witnesses to the accident, get their names, addresses, and telephone numbers.  Ask them to stay to talk to the CHP or police. If they insist on leaving, ask them to tell you what they saw and write everything down. If you are unable to speak or get information from the accident witnesses, try to identify them by taking down their license plate number. Law enforcement officials can trace the owner's name and address.

Write down the name and badge number of the law officer who comes to the accident scene. Ask the officer where and when you can get a copy of the accident report. Make a simple diagram of the accident. Draw the positions of both cars before, during, and after the accident. If there are skid marks on the road, pace them off. Draw them on the diagram, noting the distance they cover. Mark the positions of any crosswalks, stop signs, traffic lights or street lights. If you have a camera with you, take pictures of the scene.

Make notes, too, on weather and road conditions. If the accident happened after dark, say whether street lights were on. Estimate your speed and the other driver's. Be sure to note the exact time and place the accident happened.

updated: 10/30/06
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