Driving is probably the most dangerous thing most of us will ever do. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2008, there were more than 5.8 million police-reported traffic crashes in which 37,261 people were killed in the United States. These are alarming statistics that make you understand why you need to be prepared in case you are ever involved in such an accident.
Automobile accidents are never planned and occur in the most unexpected manner. Often, an individual involved in an accident is inexperienced with such matters and is left confused as to what their next step should be. Obviously it is hard to think clearly after a car accident so it is important to know before you get into an accident what to do first and what questions may need answered. This checklist will help you know what to do after a car accident. It is best to review it now and then print it out and keep a copy with you in your car.
Never Admit Fault
Immediately after an accident it’s only quite natural to say things like “I am sorry,” “I am not hurt,” “It’s not your fault,” and “I am fine” to the other party involved. But these words may become a nightmare to you if a claim is filed as a result of the accident. No matter what happens, don’t ever admit you were at fault in the accident. This isn’t so that you can get away with something that you did but it’s to protect you in the event your memory of events or your understanding of who is at fault is incorrect. The police and the insurance companies can sort out responsibility as they know all the laws.
Don’t Get Out
If there is smoke or fire coming from your car, or if you are in a dangerous situation, get out immediately and get to safety. If everything seems to be fine, just sit for a minute and collect your thoughts. You may have gotten a concussion or hurt yourself so you don’t want to be moving around too much unless it’s absolutely necessary. Take this time to collect your thoughts, try to figure out what happened, and look at the other driver. If the other person looks furious, unbalanced, whatever… lock your doors, call the police immediately. Your immediate safety comes first in this situation.
Call The Police
If there is any noticeable damage to any of the vehicles involved, or if anyone has sustained any injury, call the police immediately. If you need emergency assistance, such as a tow, call the police before you call a tow. If the accident is severe, you’ll want the police to write a record and issue a ticket. The ticket is an indication of who the police find at fault, having one of those makes it much easier to deal with insurance companies. Police can also diffuse hot tempers. If the other person looks like they’re going to do something, you’ll want the police there.
Speak Very Little
It is important that you do not talk about who did what with regard to the manner in which the accident happened. This is because such discussions might lead to heated arguments and you might end up admitting details which might become a problem in the future. “I am not sure” is a safe answer to give because details revealed make the difference of winning or losing in accident claims.
Get Driver’s License & Insurance Information
When you collect the other driver’s information, copy down everything from the other operator’s drivers license. You’ll want everything from the state it’s issued to their address to the ID number. There is no such thing as having too much information. Also remember to get their phone number as well, confirm if you must (call them). Get all of their insurance information as well (ask for a card, not just for them to recite it). Also get the make, model, and license plate of their car. If you have any problems, call the police if they aren’t there already.
Call Your Insurance Company
If you have comprehensive and collision insurance, which is insurance for your own vehicle in an accident, call your insurance company and let them know what happened. They are responsible for paying for the repairs on your car if the other driver is found to be not at fault, which means they will work hard at proving the other driver is at fault (if they are). This ultimately means less work for you, so take advantage of it (you are paying them for this anyway!).
Take Photos Of The Accident Scene
Immediately after the accident, before any vehicles are moved, is the best time to take photos of the scene. You can use any camera accessible, including a cell phone camera. Take pictures of how and where the vehicles came to rest. Take pictures of all vehicles involves and of any visible damage to the vehicles. Take pictures of license plates of the vehicles involved and of possible witnesses. Take pictures of the individuals involved.
Try To Locate Witnesses At The Scene
Immediately after the accident, ask who saw the accident. Ask them what they saw in detail. Get contact information from witnesses that support your version of how the accident occurred. This may assist the police and insurance companies involved in determining the responsible party.
Never Sign Anything
If someone asks for your signature at the scene of the accident, refuse point blank. Do not sign anything before consulting an experienced Personal Injury Attorney.
Do Not Discuss Your Injuries In Specific Terms
If you have been injured, and are in need of immediate emergency medical attention, you will need to provide the medical professionals with specific details as to your injuries. When discussing your injuries, express it strictly in medical terms. Terms like “whiplash’ should be avoided. Do not give anyone your opinion about the injuries. Leave the opinions and conclusions to the medical professionals.
Organize your information relating to your accident and injuries. Maintain a journal with photos of the accident scene, the after effects of your injuries you sustained from the accident, and the date and time of your doctor’s appointments.
After the accident, you may want to speak with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney about your rights after the accident. If you want to get started in the right direction, contact FAMILYLEGAL today (888) 725-0004 to speak with a Personal Injury Attorney in your area.