Car accidents are an unfortunate aspect of life. Because you cannot control other people’s behavior, you can do everything right and still get in an auto accident. This is just an unavoidable fact, especially since car culture is such an integral part of many American cities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 102 people died every day in a motor vehicle crash in 2016. This averaged out to a total of one fatality for every fourteen minutes. Clearly, this is a huge problem—especially in a country where motor vehicle travel remains one of the primary means of transportation.
Yet for all its prevalence, many Americans actually do not know what to do in the immediate aftermath of a crash. You can do everything in your power to try to prevent a crash, but that will not matter if you do not know what to do in the event that you become involved in one.
It can be difficult to understand just how to navigate an accident scene. After all, your head is probably spinning during this time. You have to ensure the immediate safety of yourself and all your vehicle’s occupants, along with any other involved parties. You have to figure out how to take care of any property damage, if any occurred. And if you have suffered a personal injury, you may be wondering how you are even going to be able to get back to work to pay for all of these new expenses.
Fortunately, you do not have to go through the aftermath of your auto accident alone—even if you choose not to seek out legal help. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best things to do and not to do after an accident. These are things that not even your insurance agent will tell you, as they will always have their own interests (and bottom line) in mind. Read on to find out more.
There is almost never a good reason for leaving the accident scene. In fact, in most situations, it will be seen as fleeing the accident scene and can even be grounds for prosecution or other criminal charges. Additionally, the penalties for leaving an accident scene are much higher if the other involved parties have suffered any injuries.
In many states, drivers are legally required to stop and render aid to the injured driver. Failing to do so is a crime, full stop. Some exceptions may apply, such as if you yourself have suffered serious injuries and require immediate medical attention. In most cases, however, you will do well to offer any help you can and wait until law enforcement arrives.
In this case, “relevant authorities” can mean your insurance companies or the police. There are times when a driver may try to persuade you to “handle the accident by ourselves.” They may not want to get either the insurance company or law enforcement involved. This may be because they are uninsured or because there is a warrant out for their arrest, respectively.
You may not seem the harm in agreeing to such terms, especially if your accident and/or injuries were relatively minor. However, you should keep in mind that the full repercussions of an accident often do not show up immediately. This includes symptoms of injury, which can worsen over time.
By choosing to forego reporting the accident to all relevant parties, you will essentially be surrendering your right to take any sort of legal action in the future. This means you will not be able to file a personal injury claim if your injuries worsen over time, and it means that you will not be able to file an accident claim for any property damage you find later on. In short, all relevant expenses will be left entirely in your hands—even if you were not responsible for them.
You will also generally want to call the police after an accident to file an accident report, at the very least. Such reports can prove to be valuable pieces of information in proving your innocence in an accident claim and allowing you to collect as much compensation as you are deserved.
It is easy to say things that may be misconstrued in the heat of the moment, especially after an accident. For example, many people have been raised up to apologize after an accident—regardless of whether or not they were the one who caused it. Unfortunately, this may be taken less like a polite apology and more like an admission of fault.
If your insurance company has decided that you have admitted fault for the accident, then they have every reason not to pay your claim. This means that you will be responsible for any expenses incurred by both yourself and the other driver. In order to prevent this from happening, try to stick strictly to the facts whenever you are discussing your car accident. That way, there is no chance of you saying anything that could be willfully misinterpreted.
In fact, you may even want to choose to forego speaking to your insurance company at all until you have fully processed the accident. Remember that you have every right to hold off on giving any official statements until you feel fully prepared. You may even want to seek out legal counsel during this time so you know just what to say without accidentally incriminating yourself.
If you or a loved one have recently been involved in an auto accident, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide automobile accident attorneys. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.