Do you need to give your information to the other driver after a car accident?
Updated: May 22
This is an easy question, although not everyone is aware of the simple answer. YES! You are required to stop and “mak[e] known [your] name, residence and the registration number of [your] motor vehicle.” See G.L. c. 90, § 24(2)(a½)(1) (leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury); G.L. c. 90, § 24(2)(a) (leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage). Clients have often commented to me that “the other driver did not want to provide his information to me, so I didn’t provide my information to him.” This tit-for-tat approach could seem reasonable, especially after a crash when emotions are running high, but it is not the law. In fact, the refusal to provide your name, address, and registration number is a crime. (Conviction of this crime has serious implications including, in the event someone was injured in the accident, a mandatory jail sentence.) Your obligation to make yourself known to the other driver is not dependent on the other driver doing the same.
In additional to providing the required information, I would suggest that you keep a copy of the declarations page of your insurance policy in your car. You can usually print this page out right from your computer without calling your insurer. Some insurers even produce “insurance cards” which you can print out. These cards contain less information than the declarations page (for example, the cards do not disclose the premiums paid or other personal information about your policy), but enough information to identify the insurance carrier and the particular policy number for your car. If you keep copies of these cards in your glove box, you can just hand one to the other driver in the event you are in an accident. While it is usually possible to use a registration number to find that car’s insurer, I have run into cases where the insurer listed on the RMV website was not the actual insurer of the car. If you are interested, here is the website where you can check a car’s registration and insurance. https://www.mass.gov/how-to/check-the-status-of-your-vehicle-registration
In the event that the other driver refuses to provide his name, address, or registration number, I would suggest that you try to take a picture of the license plate of his car. As I mentioned above, the immediate aftermath of a car accident is usually a very emotionally charged event. There can be finger pointing, yelling, and sometimes even threats or actual physical violence. If you feel unsafe, call the police and wait in your car. Identifying the other driver or taking a picture of his license plate is never worth the possibility of physical conflict.