Being involved in a car accident brings about a lot of emotions and a long list of what you should and should not do in the moments immediately following the crash. One of the most common questions drivers encounter following a crash is whether or not they should move their car from where it came to a stop. The shortest answer possible in such a situation is maybe. It’s understandable that this is not a solid answer, which is why we will take a deeper look into the answer to this question, so you know how to handle a car accident in the event you are ever involved in one in New York.
Moving Your Vehicle After an Accident
There are some situations in which you should move your car after an accident. For starters, the first situation is if the vehicle is blocking a lane of travel. Take a look at the condition of the car and who is at-fault. If it is clear who the at-fault driver is, and the vehicle is not totaled, it’s best to move the vehicle to a safe area. Safe areas include the shoulder, a parking lot, or a designated safe zone on a highway (rest stop or area divided by a barrier). Leaving your vehicle in a travel lane can cause a second or third accident if inattentive drivers approach the scene. This is how many pileup accidents occur. When you move the vehicle out of the travel lane you can safely discuss the accident with the other driver. If it is completely safe to do so, it can be helpful to take photographs of the cars involved showing their respective positions in the roadway and each vehicle’s point(s) of impact, when they came to a stop after the accident, but before being moved. While such photos can aid in supporting an argument as to fault, it is entirely a secondary consideration, with safety being 100% the most important consideration. Anything that might cause or worsen injuries must be avoided.
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Don’t Move Your Vehicle After an Accident
There are quite a few situations in which your vehicle should not be moved after a car accident. Those situations include the following:
- If the vehicle has been totaled or otherwise is not running properly
- If someone is injured and moving the vehicle could further exacerbate their injuries
- If there is too much debris on the road due to the accident
The most serious of accidents usually require all vehicles being left in the position in which they stopped after the car accident. Why? The police will need to reconstruct the accident scene by taking pictures, measurements, and collecting physical evidence. If the vehicles have been moved, it can be difficult for the police to conduct the investigation and determine who was at-fault in the crash.
Car Accidents Can be Crime Scenes
What many drivers fail to realize is that car accidents can turn into crimes, therefore turning the accident scene into a crime scene. Car accident scenes become crime scenes when the at-fault driver flees the scene, when an involved driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs or if someone has been killed. If you are not severely injured you need to make sure your car is locked if you are not in it and you need to monitor the scene until the police arrive. This helps ensure that the at-fault driver does not attempt to rearrange the crash scene to show they were not the cause. It’s important to leave your car where it came to a stop at a car accident scene if you believe it has been involved in a crime. This is especially important so you don’t move any other evidence involved in the crash, which could severely hinder the police investigation.
Take Pictures First
As mentioned above, but worth repeating for emphasis, after checking to see if anyone has been injured and calling 911, you should take pictures before moving any of the vehicles involved, but only if it is completely safe to do so. Take pictures of the positioning of the vehicles, damage to the vehicles, and debris from the crash. If none of the issues mentioned earlier with respect to possible criminality associated with the cause of the crash pertain, you can move the vehicles to a safe place out of the travel lane, after you have taken pictures.
Call an Attorney Today
When you are involved in a car accident you need to follow the tips outlined here so that you do not disturb any possible evidence or ruin a crime scene investigation. Make sure you speak with an experienced New York personal injury attorney at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P., Injury Lawyers, to discuss the accident before answering any questions from the police or before speaking to any insurance company. A no-obligation case review and free consultation are only a phone call away. 516-932-0400.