If you have never been in a car accident, count yourself among the lucky ones. Statistics show that the average individual will be involved in about four car accidents over their lifetime. It is not surprising since the number of car accidents seems to increase yearly, and those involved in car accidents tend to seek the legal help of a specialized attorney.
Although you want to keep your record of zero accidents, knowing what to do in such an eventuality is always useful. Much more so because not knowing can be detrimental to your legal rights.
Here is a step-by-step guide of the steps you should take after being involved in a car accident. It is always better to be informed since this may help you keep your wits about you when remaining calm may not be easy.
Turn On Your Hazard Lights
No matter how large or small the collision is, every single driver is required by law to remain at the scene. Leaving may cause you to be charged with a hit-and-run offense. If possible, move your car to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. You do not want to risk being hit again.
Make Sure Everyone Is Safe
You may be experiencing a surge of adrenaline after the accident. Nevertheless, examine yourself and your passengers for any obvious injuries or bleeding. If anyone is severely injured or not responsive, call for medical help right away.
Call The Police
The authorities must come to the scene to evaluate the situation and issue a police report. When the police arrive, they will secure the scene and investigate the accident. If you are asked any questions, be courteous but don’t elaborate on your answers. You may end up incriminating yourself for an accident that was not your fault. There is no need for you to speculate on what happened; the police know how to do their jobs and will reach their own conclusions. Request a copy of the police report as soon as it is ready.
Exchange Information with The Other Driver
Just as with the police, there is no need for you to engage in lengthy conversations with the other driver. Remember that anything you say can and will be used against you. Even if the other driver seems nice, you never know what is going through their minds and whether they may end up filing a claim against you in the future.
Make sure to get their personal information, but also write down the make, year, and model of the car and its plates. Get their insurance information and ask to see their driver’s license, and write down that number.
Document The Scene
Keep in mind that the scene of the accident is the best place to gather any evidence that may come in handy when filing a claim. Take pictures of the cars, their position on the road, and their damage. Also, photograph yourself and your injuries, and anything else that you believe might have contributed to the crash, such as oil on the road or low-hanging branches.
It is also a good idea to take a video recording of the scene while you recount what happened. Explain who was coming in which direction and what happened as far as you could tell.
Speak With Witnesses
There may be people around who witnessed the accident and are willing to talk to you and give you their testimony. Having the testimony of a witness may be invaluable when it comes to proving fault after an accident. Also, ask for their contact information if you need to reach out to them later on.
Let Your Insurance Company Know About the Accident
Your insurance carrier will want to know about the accident as soon as possible, preferably while you are still at the scene and while the police are still there. They may ask you for a copy of the police report. Tell them you have exchanged information with the other driver and taken pictures of the crash scene. They may also want to know that you have testimonies from witnesses. Ask them if there are any other documents needed that you can get while still at the scene of the accident.
Don’t accept any payout amounts from your insurance company at this time. Also, never sign a document until you or your attorney have had a chance to review its contents carefully.
Get Immediate Medical Attention
Even though some injuries are obvious and alarming, others may take time to become apparent such as whiplash. Still, others may be harder to detect if they are related to internal organs and only a trained medical professional might be able to discover them.
Even though your car might have been badly damaged, your health should come first. Take the time to schedule a complete medical checkup from a healthcare provider. You want your injuries to be diagnosed and treated by a professional, and you also want it clear on your medical record that there is a direct link between your injuries and the accident. Also, follow your doctor’s orders, go to all appointments, and take all medications to ensure you are on your way to a full recovery.
Talk To a Car Accident Attorney
If you are wondering whether you can take care of your accident on your own, think about the army of lawyers that work for insurance companies or the possibility that the other driver may have legal representation of their own. By working on your own, you place yourself at a disadvantage and may leave money on the table if you accept the payout from the insurance company. Insurance companies know that most people have no experience negotiating with them and may be pressured to accept whatever is offered. An experienced attorney will negotiate for you and get you much better results, particularly when you are dealing with mounting medical expenses and other personal losses.