When a Car Accident Happens


If you are involved in a car accident…

1. STOP North Carolina law requires that the driver of a vehicle involved in a wreck resulting in personal injury, death, or property damage must stop his/her vehicle at the scene of the accident.

2. ASSIST THE INJURED Your first duty, after stopping your car, is to check for injured persons. North Carolina law requires that you render reasonable assistance to any injured person. If someone is seriously injured, try to get a doctor or call an ambulance – whichever is quicker. Make the injured person comfortable, but do not move the person unless you are skilled in such practice. Your actions, in spite of your good intentions, could result in further injury to the victim.

You may need to transport such person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if it is requested by the
injured person. If you render first aid or emergency assistance at the scene you can not be held liable in civil damages for any acts or omissions unless these amount to reckless or intentional wrongdoing.

3. CALL AN OFFICER North Carolina law requires that the driver of a vehicle involved in a wreck resulting in personal injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more shall immediately, by the quickest means of communication, give notice of the wreck to the local police department, sheriff, or highway patrol.

Even if there are no apparent personal injuries, it is advisable to give this notice immediately. Injuries often show up later, and it is important that an officer investigate the accident promptly. The investigating officer will forward a written report of the wreck to the NC Division of Motor Vehicles. Anyone can obtain a copy of this report from the NC Division of Motor Vehicles in Raleigh. The official report may assist you later if any claim of liability is made.

 4. PROTECT THE SCENE Make every effort to prevent further accidents, as a collision site is a dangerous place. Everyone who is able to do so should move well away from traffic. If possible, avoid standing between two vehicles, even if they are off the road. If possible, have someone stationed to warn approaching vehicles. At night, use any available flares and reflectors, and always have a flashlight available. If there are no obvious personal injuries and the car can be driven normally, move your vehicle off the road. 

5. ASSIST THE OFFICER Remain at the scene, unless injured, until the officer arrives. Cooperate with the officer by relating the basic facts briefly. Remember, no one can force you to give an opinion as to the cause of the wreck at the scene, at police headquarters, or elsewhere. You have the right to consult a lawyer before making any statement. If it is a serious accident, consult your lawyer as quickly as possible. 

6. TRAFFIC CHARGES Being arrested or receiving a ticket at the scene of an accident does not necessarily indicate liability for damages. However, the way that any such charges are resolved may be used as evidence against you in civil court, if there is a lawsuit either on your behalf or against you. The relationship between criminal and civil consequences for a collision can be complex, and accidents frequently result in both civil and criminal consequences, as well as increases in your insurance rates. Because of this, it is best to consult a lawyer before entering any plea in traffic court. 

Remember to… 

SAY NOTHING | Do not give any opinions about the wreck. You may find it helpful to take notes on it so that you can recall the details later. However do not show your notes or admit any wrongdoing to anyone, even if you think you are in the wrong. You may learn later that you were not in the wrong or that the other driver was also to blame. Hasty, emotional admissions can be costly. There will be sufficient time to admit blame later if the facts clearly show that you were in the wrong. NC law requires only that you give your name, address, and the license plate number of the vehicle you are driving, and exhibit your driver’s license to any person affected by the accident. 

PAY NOTHING | Make no immediate payment of any kind to the other party nor promise to make payment. Any such payment would be at your own risk. The other driver cannot force you to make any payment without legal proceedings, nor can you be held liable without legal action.