You’ve Gotten into a Car Accident. What to Do?
Getting into a car accident is something each of us hopes to avoid – but avoiding to think about it won’t secure you from this problem. Even if you are very careful with your driving, other people aren’t necessarily so; and if you find your car in shambles and yourself probably injured, it pays to know beforehand what you should do so that you don’t make mistakes you are going to regret for years to come.
- Stay Where You Are and Make Sure Everyone is Okay
Even if you don’t believe the accident to be your fault, never leave the scene until you are absolutely sure it is alright to do so if you don’t want to be considered a hit-and-run driver and face serious consequences. Check on everyone, see if anybody is injured, call 911 if necessary, provide first aid (if you have the skills). If somebody suffers from back or neck pains or is unconscious, better leave them alone until medical personnel arrives.
Call the Police
If there is any substantial damage to property or health of any of the participants, it is necessary to call the police. Make sure they fill in a police report and write down the names and badge numbers of the officers.
- Find a Lawyer
If anybody – especially you – has suffered injuries or got their property damaged, it is almost certainly a good idea to hire a lawyer with experience of similar cases. It will help you receive a compensation if you are eligible for one, will force your insurance company to take your case seriously and, in general, let you concentrate on getting your life back on track after a traumatic experience instead of fighting legal battles.
- Talk to Potential Witnesses
Are there any other people besides the participants who can share some information about what exactly happened? Try to locate them early on, before they dissipate. People usually aren’t very forthcoming when it comes to taking part in legal proceedings, which means you have to act quickly. Collect their names, phone numbers and addresses.
- Talk to the Drivers Involved in the Accident
The same applies here: write down all their names, addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers and all other personal information you can get. Be careful about how you talk to them: be polite even if they aren’t, but never apologize for anything. Even if you believe the accident must have been your fault, it is too early to determine it, and if you apologize it may be considered that you’ve accepted your legal responsibility for the accident. You definitely don’t want this.
- Contact Your Insurance Company
Inform them about the accident at your earlier opportunity. Don’t withhold information or lie to them about what has happened – if you are found out, it will be used against you. Don’t accept an early settlement – if you’ve sustained any injuries you may have a lot of healing to do, and some injuries can become obvious only later on. Keep track of all the medical treatment you are undergoing, and don’t be in a hurry to close your dealings with the insurance company – if you are entitled for full coverage, you should get it.
A traffic accident isn’t something you can get ready to – they often happen suddenly and can cause serious harm to your life. However, if you take some notes and know how to behave in such a situation, this harm can be greatly reduced or neutralized completely – so don’t neglect an opportunity to get additional information on this subject.