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An Accident! What Do I Do Now?


I. If you are a driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident in Rhode Island, you must:

1. Stop immediately.

2. Remain at the scene.

3. Move your vehicle if it is obstructing traffic.

4. Render reasonable assistance to anyone hurt in the accident.

5. Show your license and give your name, address and registration number to anyone involved in the accident who asks.

6. Notify the nearest local or state police as quickly as possible.

7. Within ten days of the accident, file a report with the Registry of Motor Vehicles if anyone was injured or property damage is $500 or more.

If you fail to comply with any of the above you may be subject to a criminal fine and/ or imprisonment.

II. If you are involved in or a witness to a motor vehicle accident, you should:

1. Request the names, addresses and registration and insurance information of the owners and drivers of the motor vehicles involved.

2. Request the names and addresses of any witnesses.

3. Cooperate with police.

4. Read any witness statement before signing it, and request a copy.

5. Notify your insurance company as soon as possible.

6. Do not admit any fault or responsibility for the accident to anyone other than your own attorney or your insurance representative.

III. If you are injured or your motor vehicle is damaged in an accident, you should:

1. Notify your insurance company.

2. Keep copies of all statements, bills, invoices, medical records, and other documents evidencing losses or expenses.

Rhode Island has a "comparative negligence" doctrine. This means that any fault on the part of a person involved in an accident will proportionately reduce his or her recovery in a lawsuit.

For example, if both drivers in an accident are 50 percent at fault, each may recover only 50 percent of his or her total damage.

IV. When should I consult an attorney?

You should exercise common sense in determining whether to consult an attorney. A good rule of thumb is that you should consult an attorney:

1. When you know or believe that you are incapable of handling your own claim or the question of your own fault or liability.

2. When you are uninsured.

3 . When you are informed that your insurance coverage may be inadequate for the amount of damages claimed against you.

4. When there is a serious or uncertain personal injury to yourself or your minor child.

5. When your insurance company and you disagree on the amount of your cover age, the cause of the accident, or the extent of your responsibility for the accident.



This piece is produced as a public service by the Rhode Island Bar
Association and intended to provide background information. This is not a
substitute for legal advice and representation by a licensed attorney of the
Rhode Island Bar.