What To Do After a Car Accident in Washington
Best practice guide for what you need to do in case you are in an auto accident in WA
If you are involved in an accident or collision in Washington, you must be prepared to act responsibly and in accordance with State law. Following are some general guidelines and more specific requirements to follow in case of an accident.
FIRST AND FOREMOST
As a responsible driver, you must never leave the scene of an accident. Not only is it essential that you provide any necessary help immediately following an accident, but leaving an accident scene can result in having your driving privileges revoked or your license suspended.
After stopping your vehicle, you should pull up as close to the accident as safely possible, without obstructing traffic. Take a moment to assess the situation, and do not panic. Be aware of the traffic situation, and any other potential dangers, such as fire.
You should do your best to provide immediate assistance to other motorists, passengers or pedestrians that may have been injured in the accident. Take extra care when attempting to move an injured person; if possible, wait for an ambulance to arrive.
Notify 911 to report any injuries and call for medical assistance. If the accident resulted in any fatalities or injuries, inform the local Washington police, sheriff or state patrol.
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to stay calm. If possible, ensure that you are out of danger and not blocking any oncoming traffic. Call or wait for help, and do not attempt to move if you are unable to do so. See Auto Accident Injuries for more information.
If you are involved in an accident in Washington, you are required to provide certain information to the other parties involved. Likewise, fellow motorists, passengers or pedestrians involved in the accident must share similar information with you.
Also, it is often wise to ask for the information of witnesses to the accident just in case you need to have them testify at a later date. The key information to exchange in the aftermath of an accident includes:
- Name, address and contact details.
- Driver license number.
- Vehicle information and license plate number of the vehicles involved.
- Auto insurance information for the motorists involved.
It may also be useful to take photographs at the scene of the accident. If you hit an unattended vehicle, you must make an effort to find the owner or driver, and follow these same procedures.
If you are unable to locate the owner of an unattended vehicle, you are required to leave a note indicating your name and contact information, and a brief description of the accident.
REPORTING AN ACCIDENT TO THE WASHINGTON DOT
- In some situations, you must report an accident to the Washington State Department of Transportation. You are required to complete and submit a Collision Report Form within 4 days of an accident, if the accident report was not filed by a police officer and any of the following apply:
- The accident caused injury or death.
- Property damage to at least one person’s property was $700 or more.
- If you fail to report an accident to the Washington DOT, you may have your license suspended. In the event that another driver offers to pay for damages and asks you not to report an accident, you are still required to file the report in any of the situations outlined above.
- Your report must include detailed and current information regarding your insurance coverage. The DOT will cross-check this information with the insurance company shown on the report. If you did not have liability insurance when the accident occurred, your driving privileges may be suspended. You will be required to file proof of future financial responsibility (SR-22) in order to have your driving privileges reinstated.
You can obtain a copy of the Collision Report form from your local police department, county sheriff’s office or Washington State Patrol.
- Notify your auto insurance company if you are involved in an accident.
- See also Auto Accident Injuries.
- In the event that you are injured in an auto accident, consider contacting a personal injury attorney. Retain copies of any medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident.
- See also Driving Record and Driving School.