Find out what you should do immediately after a car accident and avoid potential legal troubles later on.
Although auto accidents happen in the blink of an eye, their impact can be felt for years. If the crash itself doesn’t get you, the aftermath is bound to cause complications. Thus, it’s vital to learn how to navigate an accident after the fact and protect yourself.
Keep reading to find out what you should do immediately after a car accident and avoid potential legal troubles later on.
1. Ensure Everyone’s Safe
The first thing you should do immediately after a car accident is to ensure that everyone involved is safe. If you can, exit your vehicle. Additionally, you can set up flares to warn oncoming drivers.
If the accident is a major one, call 911 for emergency services. Unless there’s anyone in imminent danger (like a fire), don’t move anybody until the emergency responders arrive.
Next, you need to call the police whether it’s a minor accident or not. For minor accidents, you should call the non-emergency police number to file a report (which will be useful when dealing with the insurance providers). Having police on the scene can also be extremely useful if it turns out the other party was driving under the influence or without valid auto insurance.
After calling the police, you should remain at the scene until they release you. If you don’t, you risk being charged with hit-and-run.
2. Get Insurance and Personal Information
Once everybody involved is safe, you should proceed to get their personal and insurance information. Also, you need to get their auto insurance details and driver’s license number. For the car insurance information, you should collect their policy number and their provider’s information).
In a scenario where the other driver doesn’t have a valid insurance policy, you need to get valid contact information. Other vital data need to collect are the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicles involved in the accident. You should also get the police report number and the officers’ names and phone numbers.
3. Watch What You Say
In the aftermath of a car accident, you should never admit to any wrongdoing even if you are at fault. While this may sound impolite, it’s a way to protect you from potential liability should the situation morph into a court case.
A wise way to go about it is to express your concerns tactfully. If you need medical attention, you should seek it without admitting you’re guilty or at fault, regardless of the circumstances.
At times you may be convinced the accident was your fault, only for other facts to come out later pointing the contrary. The rub here is that if you had admitted to being at fault while at the scene, any evidence that surfaces and is to your advantage may be too late.
A golden rule you should observe in the aftermath of a car accident is never to lie. More so, when you are reporting to the police. Also, don’t offer any promises to the other driver, especially concerning insurance or police involvement.
4. Collect Any Evidence
Any evidence at the scene is crucial since it can prove useful when resolving the case.
Begin by taking photos of the scene. Look for any debris and capture the vehicles as well. Other details you need to collect include the general description of the accident and the weather conditions in the area where the accident occurred.
Assess the location to see if there are any surveillance cameras. If you see any, note them down in case you need to see footage from the owners. Were there any witnesses at the scene? Make an effort to get their name and contact information as the insurance provider may need to get their testimony.
In line with this, once you find a quiet place, you can write down what happened to the best of your recollection.
5. Inform Your Insurance Provider
Call your insurance company as soon as you can and report the accident. If you dealt with an insurance agent when signing up, inform them so they can contact the insurance company on your behalf.
No matter who is at fault, you need to contact your insurer to avoid jeopardizing your coverage swiftly. Preferably, you should inform your insurer before the other driver or their insurer gets in touch with your provider.
Remember that notifying your insurer of the accident doesn’t mean you must file a claim. It’s wiser to consult your insurance provider to determine if filing a claim is in your best interests.
Once your insurance firm starts investigating, cooperate with them fully. The only exception will be if you feel your insurer is denying your claim wrongfully or that you may be criminally liable for the accident. At that point, you need to talk to your insurance provider through an attorney.
6. Call an Attorney
After reporting the accident to your insurer, the next call needs to be to an experienced car accident attorney. Was the accident a minor one? You still need to call an attorney if only to cover your bases.
Even when the insurance company looks like it will compensate you, you still need an attorney to help you negotiate. That’s because insurers exist to pay as little compensation as possible. As such, they will use every loophole their army of attorneys can get to minimize the compensation. Having an attorney helps you get your fair share of compensation.
You need to know what to ask a car accident lawyer to gauge their experience and expertise. Find out if they have dealt with accident cases similar to yours, their credentials, and if they offer a free consultation to discuss your situation.
Avoid Legal Entanglements During Auto Accidents
When auto accidents occur, they can leave resounding repercussions in your life. To avoid such a fate, take time out to learn what you should do as a driver after an accident happens to ensure you legally protect yourself.
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