You’ve been in an automobile accident. You’re understandably shaken up. You’ve either just been hit or have hit someone, your car may be damaged, and you could be injured. You’re most likely in shock and are still shaking from the adrenaline rush. What should you do?
The time immediately after a car accident is usually spent getting out of the vehicle and talking with the other driver while waiting for the police to show up. While you may not realize it, the actions and statements you make during this time can actually win or lose any lawsuit you are involved with after the accident. That’s why it’s vital that you take a moment to compose yourself and make certain that you don’t make any of these mistakes.
Here are a few things you absolutely do NOT want to do at the scene of an auto accident:
#1 – Don’t leave the scene of the accident
Leaving the scene of an accident before speaking to the other driver and the authorities is the worst thing you can do. Leaving the scene only adds to any penalties you may face, and in certain cases, it can add a felony charge to any other misconduct. Stay and deal with the accident, no matter how shaken you are.
#2 – Don’t admit fault
Unless you’re prepared to take on all of the blame, avoid making any statement that could be construed as admitting that the accident was your fault. Don’t even apologize. Saying you’re sorry could be seen as admitting that you were liable in the accident. Do not say anything that could be taken as an admission of fault to the other driver, the police, or your insurance company. Even if you feel like you may be partially at fault, realize that there is a good chance you don’t yet know all the facts regarding what caused the accident.
#3 – Don’t forget to document everything
Documentation is important for your insurance claim and for any lawsuit you may end up bringing against the other driver. Since almost every cell phone has a camera on it now, make certain to take as many pictures of all vehicles involved, as well as the scene of the accident. Write down as many details as you can or, if you don’t have a pen and paper, record notes on your phone. You can even call someone’s voice mail and leave a detailed messages there. Most people forget small details within a few hours, but those details could be crucial to any case.
#4 – Don’t get angry
Being angry with the other driver is another major thing you do not want to do. Generally, an accident will make everyone involved very emotional, and becoming angry can lead to a physical altercation that will only make things worse.
#5 – Don’t decline medical treatment
While you may not think you need medical treatment at the time, you always want to be checked out by a medical professional after a serious accident or any time you feel pain. If you do not, you may find out later that you were injured in the crash. However, by declining treatment at the time, it may leave the door open for the other driver or their insurance company to claim you had a pre-existing condition. Remember, you always want to have as much documented as you can, even if that document simply says that you only had a few minor cuts and bruises.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is general information only. This blog does NOT give legal advice, and is not to be read as such. If you need legal advice, please contact our firm and speak to one of our attorneys.