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What must North Carolina drivers legally do after a wreck?

There are certain things that drivers are required by law to do after getting into an accident on North Carolina roads.

All drivers have to stop if they get into an accident where someone is injured or killed or there is property damage. Additionally, the laws of the state require drivers to attempt to render aid to any injured parties. Reasonable care must be taken not to worsen the injury if moving them becomes necessary, Good Samaritan laws protect people from being held civilly liable unless they intentionally caused harm or acted recklessly.

Whenever an accident results in someone's death or injury, or when there is at least $1,000 of property damage, the drivers are required to report the accident to the police. Since not every injury is immediately apparent, all wrecks should be investigated by law enforcement.

It is important to take steps to avoid secondary collisions resulting from the initial accident. This may involve moving the vehicles off of the highway to a safe location. Once everyone is safely away from further danger, they should remain on the scene until police arrive.

Drivers are not required to give a statement at the scene about the accident or what or who may have caused it. It is perfectly legal to confer with an attorney before giving any official statements.

Even if you are ticketed at the accident scene, this does not definitively establish legal liability for the accident. Criminal charges often form the basis of civil suits, so disputing liability for a wreck can be valid.

There is no need to elaborate on the basics. All North Carolina law requires is that drivers provide police with their name, address and number of their license plate and driver's license. It is unwise to make any offers to pay for damages at the scene, as this can come back to haunt you later in court.

Collisions between big rigs and automobiles can cause serious injuries or even deaths in addition to totaling smaller vehicles. Compensation for injuries can be sought in civil court once liability is determined by crash investigators.

Source: North Carolina Advocates for Justice, "When a Car Accident Happens:" accessed Feb. 20, 2015

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