In the initial moments after a car accident happens, you might feel scared and overwhelmed. At a time like this, it can be hard to keep your wits about you and know what to do. But there are important steps you should take right after the accident occurs to help your chances of getting compensation from the guilty party or parties. There are also some actions you want to avoid to help limit potential legal action against you in the future. Here are some of the things you should do after an accident to lay a good foundation for the actions that may take place in the future.
Wait on The Scene of The Accident
Your first instinct might be to pull away from the scene of the accident and inspect the damage to your car when you get home. This is not a great idea because it can lead to you being charged with hit and run if the other parties call the police. It’s also important for you to exchange information with the other driver and take note of any circumstances that may have caused the accident to happen. Even if you are in a rush, pull over for a few minutes to get the information you need.
Assess The Situation
You might feel panicked and have a hard time keeping calm, but take a few breaths and try to keep yourself on an even keel. Try to visually assess the amount of damage that was done to your vehicle, any other vehicles involved in the collision and any property that might be involved, like fence posts or parked cars. Take photos of any obvious damage, as well as the conditions in the area when the accident occurred. If the accident occurred as a result of the situation, like a partially obstructed stop sign or malfunctioning traffic light, a picture or video can help document the issue. This is important because the issue is likely to be fixed in a few days, and it may be hard to prove the way things were when your accident happened.
Speak to The Authorities
While it may not be required by law in your state to call a police officer after a car accident, it’s always a good idea for a few reasons. Firstly, your insurance company will probably ask for a police report if you try to make a claim for any damages to your vehicle or your health. Secondly, it can help to substantiate your version of events and proves that you are a responsible driver. Police officers can find out more information from the other party which can end up substantiating your story. Third, it helps to assure there is no chance that you can be accused of leaving the scene of the accident or being a hit and run driver.
Get All of The Information You Can
Some of the most important information you should try to gather after the accident includes:
• The name, driver’s license information, address and car insurance information of the other driver or drivers involved in the accident. You should also note if there are any passengers, how many and what condition they seem to be in after the impact. If you can, get name and contact information from these people as well. This can become relevant if the other driver changes their story or claims there were more passengers present than you saw.
• The name and account of any witnesses who saw the accident. You can pass this information on to your insurer and lawyer to follow up and take formal statements if needed. These people can be the key to proving your case if legal action is taken as a result of the accident. Since they do not have a vested interest in the outcome of the case, their statements can hold more weight in the eyes of a judge or jury than yours or those of the other driver.
• A copy of the police report, if possible. If the responding officer can’t give you a copy, take note of the name and badge number of the responding officer. If the report does not get filed for any reason, you can use this information to track down the right police officer.
Be Cooperative But Don’t Say Too Much
It’s fine to speak to the other drivers, make sure they are okay, and give them your basic information. However, you should be careful not to offer too much information as it can come back to haunt you. Do not mention anything that the other driver might take as an admission of guilt or a reason to put the blame on you. For example, if you were distracted while driving and believed you caused the accident, you might be inclined to apologize and offer an explanation, but it’s better to keep this information to yourself. The other driver can interpret this differently than you meant it, and it can be harmful to your case if their lawyer brings it up in court.
Keep Records of Any Follow-Up Care or Activities
As time goes on, you may need to seek medical or chiropractic care as a result of the accident. You may also speak to insurance adjusters and other representatives from your insurance company. Keep any documentation or records you are given, and take notes of when you speak to the insurance company. All of this can help you present a case if you need to pursue legal action or file a disability claim in the future. Proof of a chronic condition that has grown worse after the accident can be powerful when you try to seek compensation.
In the weeks and months after a car accident, the consequences of the impact can start to appear and get more serious. Injuries can get more severe, and damage to the car can be expensive to have fixed. Following these steps once the accident occurs can help to ensure you get the best possible outcome down the line.
First Steps You Should Take After a Car Accident