The Importance of Exchanging Information After a Car Accident

The aftermath of a car accident in Chicago can be an overwhelming time, but what you do next could have a major effect on your ability to recover compensation from the at-fault driver. By knowing what information to exchange after a car accident, you can strengthen your insurance claim and improve your chance of recovering fair compensation. This guide will explain what to do after an accident and what information you should exchange with the other driver.

Your Immediate Post-Accident Checklist for Chicago Car Crashes

Your health and safety are the most important priorities after a motor vehicle wreck. Take these steps in the immediate aftermath:

  • Check yourself for injuries
  • Check your passengers for injuries
  • Address injuries requiring immediate attention
  • Get to a safe spot away from traffic

Don’t attempt to drive your vehicle unless you know you can safely do so. If you have road flares or other means of alerting motorists to a crash, use them.

Approach the other drivers involved in the crash next. When doing so, don’t make any of these common mistakes:

  • Confronting a driver in anger
  • Saying you’re sorry, which sounds like an admission of fault
  • Making any other statements that might indicate you caused the crash
  • Agreeing to “deal with the damage” at the scene instead of calling the police

Contact the authorities as soon as it is safe to do so.

Car Accident Report Guide: Legal Requirements After a Chicago Car Crash

Certain legal requirements after a car accident may apply when an accident causes harm or property damage. In the past, Illinois required motorists to contact law enforcement to report collisions involving any of the following:

  • Bodily injury
  • Death
  • More than $1,500 in property damage

While this is no longer the case, it’s still a good idea to report any accident you’re involved in. Never assume a crash is minor and that you don’t need to call the police. It’s possible to sustain injuries without realizing it.

Don’t tell anyone you’re “fine” after a wreck until you’ve seen a doctor. A medical professional must confirm there are no injuries whose symptoms you haven’t experienced yet. Seeing a doctor on the day of a crash may also improve your chances of receiving proper compensation, as it prevents insurers from claiming that your injuries are unrelated to the crash.

It’s also difficult to assess the extent of the property damage in the immediate aftermath of a crash. A vehicle that looks relatively unharmed from the outside may have damaged internal components. 

After a crash, err on the side of caution and call the police. You may exchange insurance information after an accident while you wait for an officer to arrive.

What Information to Exchange After a Car Accident in Chicago, Illinois

Try to gather as much information as possible during a car accident information exchange. Too much information is far better than too little.

To start with, Illinois state law requires drivers to be able to provide the following in the aftermath of a collision:

  • Driver’s license information
  • Vehicle registration information
  • Proof of insurance
  • A phone number

Here’s some other information to exchange during a driver information swap after an accident:

  • The names of all involved parties  Don’t merely get the names and contact information of other drivers involved in the wreck. Ask their passengers to provide their names and contact information as well. If they don’t provide you with this information, the police may require them to anyway. You could potentially track down this information later by requesting a copy of the crash report. Knowing the names of other passengers is important because they may serve as witnesses. In some instances, passengers even contribute to wrecks. This might happen if a passenger carelessly distracts or interferes with a driver.
  • Thorough contact information  Gather more than a phone number if the other parties involved in the crash are willing to provide other contact info. Consider asking them what their preferred contact method is. Your goal is to never have a hard time reaching them.
  • Vehicle information  Take pictures of the crash scene from multiple angles. Taking pictures is among the “accident scene essentials” attorneys recommend. Try to get photos that clearly depict the makes, models, and license plates of the other vehicles involved in the wreck. You may even ask the other drivers to provide vehicle identification numbers (VINs). Although they might be reluctant to offer this information, there’s no harm in requesting it.

Most importantly, make sure the insurance information a driver provides is thorough and accurate. You need to know their insurance carrier and policy number to file a claim.

Other Information to Gather at the Scene of a Crash

The other drivers and passengers involved in a wreck may not be the only parties with whom you want to exchange information. For example, witnesses might have seen the crash occur. Ask them for their names and contact information. Some may even be willing to give recorded statements. Record their statements if they’re willing to give them. Witness testimony is more valuable when it’s fresh.

What if the Other Driver Fled the Scene?

a man looking out of a car window at night after a car accident

Once you’re safe, make a note of basic identifying details of the other vehicles in the crash, such as their makes, models, and license plate numbers. This information can be especially valuable if the driver attempts to flee the scene before police arrive.

Report the crash even if another driver fled before you could get a good look at their vehicle. The police may have other means of tracking them down. The fact that you remained at the scene and reported the crash could reflect well on you during the claims process. Reporting the crash might also be a legal requirement.

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer

Another smart step to take in the days after a crash is to review your case with an attorney. A Chicago car accident lawyer with JJ Legal, our team of attorneys can help you pursue compensation for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and more. Find out more by contacting us online or calling at 312-200-2000 for a free case review.

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