What Information Do You Need to Exchange After an Accident?
Everyone has heard about the importance of exchanging information with the other driver after an accident. But what information, exactly, do you need to trade? And, furthermore, why is it important to take this step?
Although seeking medical attention and filing a report with the police are both crucial after a car accident, getting the other driver’s information may be the single most vital step for protecting your legal rights. Documents establishing the other driver’s identity and insurance coverage are the two most important goals of exchanging information, with additional details further supporting your potential claim.
If you have been seriously injured in a crash, our car accident attorneys can build a strong case on your behalf. Contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi today for a free consultation.
Must-Haves for Exchanging Information After an Accident
Most people today don’t leave home without their phones. However, if you are unable to access your phone or the device gets damaged in an accident, it is important to have a backup for taking down information. Keeping a notepad and pen in your glovebox is a smart idea for this exact situation.
The most important information to get from the other driver after an accident includes the following:
Name and Contact Information
After an accident, you need to be able to know (a) who the other driver is and (b) how to reach him or her after the fact. If the accident involved multiple drivers, get the name and contact information for all of the individuals involved.
The other driver may freely give his or her name and contact information. However, to make sure you have the details right, it is best to verify what the driver tells you by looking at the name and address on the driver license and/or vehicle registration. If the driver gives you a different name than what you see on these documents, ask if he or she is the owner of the vehicle.
It is important to know all of the parties after an accident. For this reason, you should also get the names and contact information for any passengers who were inside the vehicle(s) involved in the crash.
Car insurance coverage is mandatory in New Jersey. If the driver tells you he or she does not have insurance or fails to provide proof of insurance, make sure you have the driver’s name and contact information and contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.
Important details to look for on the driver’s insurance identification card after an accident include:
- The name of the insurance carrier
- The name of the insured on the policy (compare the information on the ID card with what the driver provided you)
- The insurance policy number
- Contact information for the insurance company
- The vehicle ID number (VIN)
- Year, make, and model of the vehicle
Although New Jersey is a no-fault state, exchanging insurance information after an accident is a must. If you are diagnosed with a serious and permanent injury as a result of a car accident, you may have the right to sue the at-fault driver for damages.
To file a fault-based claim, you must know who the driver is and what insurance company is liable. An experienced lawyer can investigate the at-fault driver’s coverage and advise you of your options for recovering compensation.
Driver License and License Plate Numbers
The driver license number is a unique record of the driver’s identity maintained by the state. Vehicle license plate numbers are also unique, enabling identification of the vehicle.
Getting the number from a driver license and the plate number for the vehicle is another way to identify the driver(s) and vehicle(s) after an accident. The VIN (most easily found on the vehicle registration) can also be an enormous help in this regard.
Vehicle Year, Make, and Model
Generally you can find the year of the car and its make and model (i.e., the automaker and the type of car) on the insurance identification card. If the driver doesn’t have insurance or fails to provide you with proof of insurance, it is important to get the information some other way.
Oftentimes the outside of the vehicle will feature the name of the manufacturer as well as the model (look at the grill and/or the tailgate). Failing this, ask the driver for the make, model, and model year.
What If I Can’t Get the Driver’s Information?
Ideally, every driver would take the time to exchange all of the needed information after every accident. Unfortunately, a variety of circumstances can make it impossible to get everything you need.
Accident scenes are chaotic, and it’s easy to miss key details. Other issues can also prevent you from fully exchanging information:
- Your injuries require emergency care: If you suffer serious or catastrophic injury, you may need to be taken to the emergency room immediately without having the chance to exchange information.
- The driver leaves the scene of the accident: A motorist may flee an accident scene for multiple reasons, from simple panic to illegal activities (such as drunk driving).
- The municipality issues a no-stop order for accidents: In severe weather, local governments may advise drivers not to stop and exchange information in the event of a collision (although these orders generally apply to minor accidents, such as those with minimal to no injury or property damage).
Unless it is a threat to your health and well-being to stay at the scene, it is always in your best interest to take the time to exchange information after an accident. In fact, leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries or death is a crime punishable by fines, points on your license, and even jail time. You should also call the police, as you may be required to file a police report after the accident.
An experienced lawyer can help if you were too seriously injured to exchange information, as well as if you were hurt in a hit and run accident. Thorough investigation by an attorney can determine who is at fault, liability for damages, and your options for recovering compensation.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today
Exchanging information after an accident is crucial for the success of your claim. If you were able to get the information you need from the other driver(s), a lawyer can help you file a claim with your insurance company and/or the carrier for the at-fault driver. However, if you were unable to exchange information, it is important to seek legal guidance as soon as possible.
The award-winning attorneys at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi are here to help no matter the circumstances of your accident claim. Our attorneys have recovered millions in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients. Let us put our experience, resources, and history of results to work for you.
Please call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 today for a free consultation. Our car accident attorneys serve clients in Fort Lee and all of New Jersey, as well as New York.