Avoid Leaving the Scene of the Accident before Obtaining Accurate Information from the Other Party and Any Witnesses
Interviewer: We’ve talked about the importance of documentation. What other mistakes do people make when they’re in an accident that hurts their case?
Bill: The very biggest mistake that they make is not getting complete information, not getting photos and not contacting witnesses if they are available, and then, inaccurate exchange of information. You should look at the person’s license plate and their driver’s license. You should look at their insurance policy and take the number down yourself. It’s important to know also if they do not have insurance.
If the Other Party Does Not Comply With an Information Exchange, the Police Are Needed
Interviewer: If the other party refuses to comply with any of this, that’s handled by just calling the police anyway, right?
Bill: Absolutely. It’s the law in the State of Washington that you exchange information. That will be a reason to call the police regardless of the level of impact.
Interviewer: Do you have people say, “Oh my God, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t mean that”? They’re apologizing, which hurts their case or they are making statements that would cause them to be shown at fault versus the other person?
Bill: That happens. It even happens that they give wrong information to the police department. However, we deal with it. Everyone knows adrenaline’s running, and it’s the natural reaction of someone to worry about the other person and to really not know in certain conditions whether or not that they’re at fault.
The Police will fill out an Exchange of Information Form and Make a General Determination of the At-Fault Party
Generally speaking, the officer will know how to proceed with an investigation. In this state, the officer will give what’s called an exchange of information form. The interesting thing about that is, when the officer lists the parties, the party listed first is the party he thinks caused the wreck.
Interviewer: So the officer is making an initial determination of who is at fault and what triggered them?
Bill: Right, and 99% of the time that sticks.