There is an average of 16,000 car accidents on any given day in the United States. Thankfully, most of those accidents are only property damage. With that said, one-third of all traffic accidents do involve some sort of personal injury.
Car accidents have the power to rattle even the most seasoned drivers. Even minor accidents can turn into chaotic and heated affairs. It is especially important in the immediate aftermath to remain calm. When you are calm and collected, it will be easier to know what to do so you don’t end up making matters worse.
Keep in mind that there are steps you can take right after a car accident to help protect you and your interests.
Read on, and we’ll walk you through the most important things you need to do following a car accident.
Whenever your car makes contact with another vehicle or person, you need to stop. If you flee the scene, even if you were the one who got hit, it is still considered a hit-and-run.
Most states classify hit-and-runs as either misdemeanors or felonies. Hefty fines and jail time are common punishments for people who commit hit-and-runs. Plus, your insurance company will most likely cancel your policy after a conviction.
If you can’t stop at the scene of the crime due to traffic, then stop as close as possible.
Call the Police
In most states, it is against the law to not call the police when a car accident involves personal injury or property damages exceeding $1,000. Not sure if your accident warrants a call to the cops? Do it anyway to be on the safe side.
Police can help expedite the process of exchanging information between parties. They will also check to make sure that everyone is safe and the area where the car accident took place is not dangerous to other drivers.
If you end up exchanging information on your own, be sure to get the other driver’s name and address. Also, write down the phone numbers of everyone involved in the crash, including any witnesses. You should also get the other driver’s insurance information as well as the make and model of their car.
Aside from that, it is advisable that you keep conversation to a minimum with the other party. Anything you say can later work against you and hurt your case.
Also, it is imperative that you NEVER apologize. Even if you think that you are the one at fault, remember that you do not have all the information yet.
You should never say “I’m sorry” because the other party may interpret it as an admission of guilt.
Give an Accurate Account
After the police have arrived, the investigating officer will want to speak to both drivers individually. When it is your turn to speak to the officer, make sure that you recall the events exactly how you remember them.
You never want to assume, exaggerate, or guess any of the details. If there is something that you are not sure about, tell the office that you are not sure.
Also, do not eavesdrop on the officer when they talk to the other driver. This is not the time or place to interrupt or chime in, even if it sounds like the other driver is not giving an accurate account of what happened. You will have your turn to give your side of the story.
Always write down what happened as well. It is a good idea to keep a pen and notepad in your car. Our memories become less clear over time and you want a written account while the events are still fresh in your mind.
Take Photos Of The Car Accident
The attorneys at Rinehardt Law Firm recommend taking “as many photos, videos and audio clips as your phone can handle.” Try to start taking pictures immediately after you’ve completed the steps listed above.
Take photos of all the damage to your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, and anything else that seems relevant. If there are any visible injuries, definitely take photos of those too.
Receive Medical Attention
If you or anyone else involved in the accident appears to need immediate medical attention, do whatever you can to get them help as soon as possible. When the police arrive, they can also help arrange for an ambulance to come.
Bear in mind that even if you feel fine, it often takes a couple of days after the car accident for you to feel the effects of an injury. Even if you feel okay, it is still a good idea to consult a physician.
Consult Your Lawyer
Talking with an experienced lawyer is the best way to protect yourself and your rights following an accident. Because statements with insurance companies are often recorded, anything you say can be used against you later.
A car accident attorney will know how to accurately give information to your insurance company while still ensuring that you have legal protection. They can also help you receive full compensation for any damages later on plus extract any hard-to-get evidence that can help your case.
Notify Your Insurance Company
When you contact your insurance company following a car accident, they will let you know what information they need from you for the claim process. This is also a good time to find out what medical benefits your insurance policy contains.
Car Accidents Can Happen to Anyone
A car accident can happen to even the most careful of drivers. That is why it is so important to have these steps memorized so you know what to do when the time calls for it.
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