8 Must Do Things After a Car Accident
Immediately after a car accident it is tough to think straight but avoiding these 8 post accident blunders could save you from making a bad situation worse.
1. Do Not Leave the Scene of the Accident
Sounds like a no brainer, right? But you would be amazed at how many cases we handle each year where one of the drivers left the scene for one reason or another. In each of the 50 states, traffic laws are relatively consistent in what qualifies as a “hit and run.” It should be noted that leaving the scene of an accident is 100% illegal, and those who do leave the scene without fulfilling obligations are subject to big consequences.
The reasons people leave the scene are many but some of the more common reasons are the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is operating without a valid license, the car they are driving is stolen or they just panicked. Whatever the case may be, leaving the scene almost always makes the situation worse for the fleeing driver. If you are involved in a car accident, get to a safe area out of traffic and exchange information with the other driver(s). If you are the victim of a hit and run, you may still be able to recover for your injuries under the uninsured motorist coverage of your own car insurance.
2. Stay Calm
Staying calm after a car accident is easier said than done. People experience a range of emotions – from deathly calm to all out hysterics. If you are unfortunate enough to be in an accident, losing your temper is not the solution. Remaining calm and knowing what to do after a collision will benefit you in the long run. Firstly, it will allow you to accurately remember the events surrounding the accident. This will help if you choose to make a claim for compensation later on. Secondly, it will prevent you from jumping to conclusions. This will avoid making any rash statements – like partly admitting to liability, which might affect your compensation claim. Finally, and most importantly, it will allow you to assist anyone who may need medical attention. The calmer you are, the faster your response time will be.
3. Call the Police
We handle many cases where people involved in car accidents have simply exchanged information with the other driver and never called the police. We believe this is a mistake. State laws require that you call the police if anyone is injured or if property damage exceeds a certain threshold. You may also need a police report when you file your insurance claim. If you need to, be politely persistent with the other driver and the police officer that you would like a written statement.
4. Get All Relevant Information at the Scene
After a car accident, the success of any car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit will hinge mostly on your ability to prevail on two key issues: fault for the car accident and the nature and extent of your losses (damages). The best way to strengthen your position on these issues is to have documentation that supports every assertion you make.
If your vehicle was damaged in the accident, as part of any insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, you’re probably entitled to have any necessary repairs paid for. But in order to figure out how much to ask for, you’ll need to know how much repairs will cost, and in some cases, the actual cash value of your car just before the accident happened.
Ask the other driver for their car insurance information and gather as much information as you can.
The following information is helpful to document:
- Name of the driver
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license number
- Phone number of driver
- Tag number
- Make, model, and color of vehicle
5. Avoid Admitting Fault
After an accident many people instinctively apologize for the accident whether they were at fault or not. Avoid saying “I’m sorry” or “It was my fault”. Allow police to assess the scene and develop their conclusions while you focus on gathering information. This mistake can be fatal for your case for several reasons. First, our ability to properly assess fault after an accident is greatly diminished by the excitement of the events, the trauma we may have suffered and the fear we may have at the moment. Second, I cannot tell you how many times we have seen police reports that note one party made damaging apologetic statements which are later used against the other party.
6. Hire an Attorney
Whether you should hire a lawyer after a car accident is an important decision. You have the right to talk to a lawyer before you talk to an insurance company, but you also have the right to fight the insurance company on your own. Make an informed choice. As you decide, consider these tricks that insurance companies use against injured people who don’t hire lawyers.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Their purpose is to make money, not to make friends, and insurance companies don’t make money when they pay money to you. They will do anything they can to avoid paying you money. While an insurance company representative may pretend to be your friend, remember the simple truth—insurance companies want to pay as little as possible to you so they can keep more money for themselves. In fact, some insurance claims representatives may get paid more if they pay you less.
7. Fill Out All Post-Accident Paperwork
After a car accident there are many administrative tasks that need to be dealt with promptly and correctly in order to protect your legal rights. People are busy, and they often fail to do the things they need to do soon after an accident to preserve their rights. For example, you will need to fill out a motor vehicle accident form and get a copy of it to your insurance carrier, your local police department and the Registry of motor vehicles. If you are injured, you will need to complete a Personal Injury Protection application that will be submitted to your car insurance company so that you can collect benefits for your medical expenses and lost earnings caused by the accident. One of the best things you could do if you are injured is to promptly speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer who will take the hassle of these administrative tasks off your plate so that you can focus exclusively on getting better.
8. Do Not Speak to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Without a Lawyer
While some people who experience a car accident prefer to call their insurance company on the scene, it is important that you not speak with the other driver’s insurance company on the phone. Talking to an insurance adjuster after an automotive accident can often lead to disastrous consequences. Insurance adjusters will try to extract information from the accident victim to use against him or her. Many people have no idea of the tactics that insurance adjusters may use. They may feel open communicating information with the adjuster until they realize that what they have said is being used against them. People are naturally inclined to be honest and to expect to be treated in a fair manner. By taking on this important feat, it is likely that the victim injured in a personal injury case will make a mistake that will adversely affect his or her case.
Legal Consultation After Car Crash Injuries
If you sustained an injury after a motor vehicle accident that was due to negligence or wrongdoing on the other party’s fault, you may be entitled to money for your hospital bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. A personal injury lawyer can evaluate the circumstances surrounding your case and gather the appropriate evidence to support your claim in court.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury and have questions about seeking legal action, call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.