No one ever anticipates experiencing a car accident. In fact, most of us do everything in our power to make sure we stay safe on the road. Unfortunately, however, even the most experienced drivers can’t always avoid a collision. Auto accidents usually happen without warning and due to factors beyond our control.
Because accidents are unpredictable and can’t always be avoided, it’s important to know what to do if you find yourself a victim of a collision. Whether the crash was your fault or someone else’s, it’s important to follow a strict procedure so you can preserve your safety and enable yourself to take the legal action necessary to recover your damages.
Step 1: Assess Yourself for Injuries
Before you take any other actions, it is important to make sure you don’t have any severe injuries from the accident. If you are bleeding profusely, losing consciousness, or have extreme pain, it is important for you to remain where you are until medical help arrives. Getting medical help is the single most important thing you can do for yourself after an accident.
If you have no injuries and are okay to move, check on any passengers in your car to be sure that they have escaped injury. If so, you may exit your vehicle, provided you are in a safe location. If you haven’t already, you should pull over to the side of the road if possible to remove yourself from further danger.
Step 2: Don’t Apologize
Many people who get into a car accident search for their own fault in the situation or feel the need to apologize to the other driver for what happened. This is never a good idea, even if you were at fault. Apologies can be used by insurance companies and the other party’s attorney as an admission of guilt later on, landing you with large repair expenses and insurance payments. It’s best to refrain from saying anything that could be construed as an apology or confession.
If you feel you must say something to the other driver, ask if they are injured. Try not to expend too much on the details of the accident. In nearly all cases, you are best served by simply following this set of steps.
Step 3: Get the Other Driver’s Information
As you likely know, it’s important to get the other driver’s name, driver’s license number, and insurance information. Many people choose to take a photo of the driver’s license and insurance card, but it is important to verify that the driver is okay with this. Simply note the relevant information if they prefer you not take a photo.
It can also be helpful to get the other driver’s phone number and email address. There is a chance that your attorney will need to contact them as the insurance claims process progresses. Having an easy way to do so can make the process go more smoothly.
Step 4: Get Witnesses’ Information
If there is someone else in the other driver’s car, note their name and contact information. If others are nearby and saw what happened, ask if you may have their contact information too. This can help your attorney reconstruct the accident in civil court.
Step 4: Take Photos
It is important to take photos of the damage to your car as well as the other driver’s car. Be sure you get clear photos from multiple angles. Do not forget to photograph debris, road or property damage, the position of your vehicle after the crash, and other pertinent details about the surrounding area. It can be important to note road signs as well.
If you or the other driver has visible injuries, take photos of them. This can be useful when you deal with insurance agencies, especially since most superficial injuries heal quickly. In addition, should you seek medical care for your injuries, be sure you save any medical bills or treatment notes.
Step 5: Give Your Statement
The police are not always called to car accident scenes, especially if the damage is minor. If an officer does arrive, they may ask for your statement about what happened. Give only the facts and leave your emotions out of your statement. It is important to remember that this statement can be used against you. If you admit fault in your statement, you may not receive insurance payments for your damages.
Step 6: Call Your Attorney
When you have done everything you need to do at the crash site, contact your attorney right away. Insurance companies move to take advantage of accident victims very quickly, so the sooner you have legal representation, the more protected you will be. We can advise you regarding your next steps and field all calls with insurance companies.
Insurance Companies and Car Accidents
Many people believe their insurance company will help them pursue payment for their damages after they experience an accident. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Insurance companies are businesses focused on their profit margins, and many do everything in their power to avoid paying expensive medical bills and auto repair charges.
Insurance companies often achieve this by trying to persuade victims to claim responsibility for the accident so that the company is not liable for the costs. They may place blame on a victim by:
- Calling them soon after an accident to rush them into saying they are uninjured or otherwise unaffected.
- Intimidating them into making a statement to the insurance company, though the victim does not have to do so.
- Hiring private investigators to follow the victim and verify they are actually hurt.
There are many other tactics that insurance companies can use to intimidate and coerce accident victims into giving a statement. Fortunately, you can protect yourself from these tactics by hiring an expert attorney to represent you.
Contact Peach & Weathers
The personal injury team at Peach & Weathers has extensive experience helping drivers following car accidents. Whether you were in a minor accident or a serious wreck, you can trust us to fight for proper compensation for you. We will work diligently to help you avoid paying for damages when you shouldn’t have to.
For more information about what we can do for you, how car accidents can affect your life, and more, please contact us online today.