What To Do After a Car Accident
Accidents happen and, regardless of fault, there are certain things that can be done to protect the scene and your rights. There are ads with advice to “not say anything” without legal representation, but this may not be practical at an accident scene. This blog will focus on what to do and say without jeopardizing your legal position while portraying cooperation and empathy.
Remain at the Scene
Absent extenuating circumstances or severe injury, never leave an accident scene before exchanging pertinent information with the other driver and before the police arrive. Your legal position will be compromised if you leave the scene and the other driver remains to wait for the police.
Immediately after an accident, whether day or night, turn on the hazard lights. Then, make sure the road and the traffic conditions are safe for you to get out of the car. If the conditions are not safe, then remain in the car with the doors locked.
It is important to dial 911 as soon as practicable after the accident. A police report will help with the insurance claim. If a copy of the report cannot be obtained at the scene, then be sure to get the case number before the police leave.
When responding to the questions of the police, answer honestly in short sentences and answer only what is being asked. It is important to not get into an altercation with the police, the other driver or the witnesses.
The Adrenaline Rush
Please remember that, regardless of fault, all parties involved in the accident will fall victim to their adrenaline rush. The adrenaline will affect moods and reactions, as well as decrease the awareness of personal injury. It is human nature to make sure everyone is OK. If this is asked of you, respond with a short sentence of “I think so” or “I am not sure.”
Under no circumstances should you be combative with the other driver or with any witness if you do not agree with their interpretation of the accident. This is when it is important to walk away and stay by your car.
There is nothing that can be said to change the position of others. It will be best to tell your story to the police and let the police evaluate the scene.
If possible, record the scene, any tire skid marks and the damaged property. In addition to the cars, the damaged property can include guard rails, landscaped areas and signage. Please be very aware that others at the scene will also be recording. This may prove helpful to your position as others may see things you do not.
This is where it is important to not get into an altercation with others at the scene. Your combativeness on record will only work against your position, and your actions and words will be taken out of context.
The Insurance Company
It may not be practical to remain completely silent at the accident. However, it is very practical to not make a claim to your insurance company until you secure legal representation, and your attorney knows all aspects of the case.
This advice extends to the insurance company of the other driver. The insurance companies will obtain copies of the police report and any other items turned over as evidence. It is imperative for your attorney to evaluate all evidence before any statement is given or signed. Your attorney will advise if it is in your best interests to amend your statement given at the scene.
It must be understood that your insurance company does not represent you. The insurance company will represent itself with a team of attorneys to protect its position. Your attorney will represent and protect your position.
As the adrenaline levels abate, the details of the accident may become clearer and your awareness of any injury will be known. It is imperative to not refuse medical treatment either at the scene or within a short time after. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to defend and justify your claim for compensation. Time is not your friend.
It is imperative to follow the advice of your attorney regarding medical treatment.