What Should I Do If I’ve Been in a Car Accident?
Accidents happen. By the very nature of the word “accident,” they’re not something that we are expecting or even pencil into our daily planner. Fortunately, many of us do plan, to an extent, with proper levels of auto insurance and being raised with some common sense.
According to recent statistics, there are about 6 million car accidents each year in the United States. That means that 11 car accidents happen every second and the average driver will probably have an accident every 18 years. If it’s your turn and you’ve just been involved in an accident, here is what you need to do to protect yourself and your rights.
Never leave the scene of an accident, even a minor one. Leaving the scene of an accident can be considered a hit and run, which carries severe penalties. Stick around and deal with this inconvenience to your day and disruption of your plans. You are protecting your rights and it’s the right thing to do.
Make Sure Everyone is Okay
The first thing you want to do is make sure that everyone is okay and out of harm’s way. If there are injured parties, including yourself, call 911 and ask for an ambulance. If your vehicle is in the middle of the road, where it could cause another accident, move it to the side only if it is drivable and safe to do so.
Call the Police
While many people would rather handle minor accidents without the involvement of the police, this isn’t the best option for several reasons. Particularly if you’re not at fault, you need an official record of the accident, including date, time, and accident scenario. Even if the police simply ask that you file a report later, you’ll be on record as having called. If the other parties admit fault at the accident scene and then change their story later, it would benefit you to have a police report on hand that might include witness names. Also, if the other party commits a traffic violation when causing the accident, they should be ticketed.
Ask to see the insurance card for the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Exchange information, such as name, address, and phone number with drivers and potential witnesses. If the police are present and write up a report, ask them for the report number so that you can get a copy as soon as the official police report is available.
Avoid Admitting Fault
Accident scenes can be confusing and stressful. Be mindful of what you say to other drivers and the police, as everyone else is taking note of your words. Avoid admitting fault, even if another driver insists that they are the victim and you were the one to blame. Simply stick to the facts of the accident and resist becoming emotional when discussing the events.
Take a Lot of Pictures
Most people have smartphones today, and this is a tremendous benefit if you are involved in an auto accident. Take a lot of photos of the accident scene, and even several videos if your phone has the ability. Also, be sure to take a photo of the other party’s license plate number, their visible injuries, and the damages to all vehicles.
Start Your Own File
Compile all of your collected information into your own accident file. This should include photos, any notes from conversations with insurance companies, a copy of the police report, and bills for repairs and medical treatment. All of this information can be used in your case against the parties at fault in the accident so that you can collect just compensation.
Protect Your Rights
One of the most important things that you can do after an auto accident is to consult an experienced accident attorney who will protect your rights. Seek legal advice immediately, preferably before speaking with an insurance company who may not have your best interests in mind. Personal injury attorneys aren’t paid unless you receive compensation for your injuries, so there is no upfront cost to you. Contact The Ron Aslam Law Office for an appointment to discuss your auto accident case today at (502) 581-1676.