Even a simple distraction can take your attention off the road for a few seconds. But that's all it takes for a fender bender. If you collided with another car in the intersection, you might think it was your fault. What do you do now?
Getting in a car crash can be a frightening experience. When the collision is your fault, it can feel even worse. There are some commonsense steps to take right after any car accident. Even if you may be at fault for the collision, there are a few things you should never do.
What To Do After an Accident
No matter how careful you are, you can be involved in a car accident. Remember these steps to protect your rights and save you hassle down the road.
- Do not leave the scene: You may be charged with a hit-and-run.
- Do check for injuries: Call for an ambulance if you are not certain about the severity of bodily injuries. Everyone involved should receive medical attention because soft tissue car accident injuries can become serious injuries without proper medical treatment.
- Do exchange information: Get the phone numbers, email addresses, auto insurance policy information of the other drivers, and contact information of any witnesses.
- Do take pictures: Use the camera on your cell phone to record the accident scene and damage to the cars. Make a note if surrounding businesses may have cameras that captured the accident or if there are cameras mounted on the traffic lights.
- Don't block traffic: If the accident has minor vehicle damage, move your car out of the roadway.
- Do make notes: Immediately record facts about the accident, including the license plate number, specific property damage to all vehicles involved, witness information, and comments by the other drivers.
- Do file a police report: If the police do not come to the scene of the accident, file a report with the police department or the department of motor vehicles. Some regions even offer online systems for car accident reports.
Do's and Don'ts as the At-Fault Driver
There are a few things you should not do if you're legally responsible for a car accident.
- Don't yell: Emotions can run high right after an accident. Don't get mad or accuse the other driver of anything.
- Don't admit fault: Even if you think you caused the accident, do not say you caused the accident to the police or the other driver. Likewise, do not apologize for the accident. The other driver may be partially at fault for the collision or the severity of the damages.
- Don't discuss the accident: You shouldn't talk about the details of the accident with the other party, their insurance adjuster, or their attorney. Be honest with the police and your insurance company by giving the facts. Consider talking to a car accident attorney for legal advice.
- Don't negotiate: The side of the road, right after an accident is not the time or place to be signing statements regarding fault or promising to pay for the damage. Let the insurance companies do their job.
- Don't be first to leave: After the police have made their report, wait until the other drivers have left the scene before you depart.
How To Handle the Insurance Claims Process
Whether you live in a no-fault or at-fault state, let your driver's insurance company handle injury claims from the accident victims. You can provide your insurance information such as the policy number, but do not overshare policy limits, etc. You may have liability insurance, collision coverage, and/or personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. State laws differ on motorist coverage, so you do not want to provide a recorded statement that may be used against you during the car accident claim process.
Your insurance rates may increase even if the accident is not your fault completely. The at-fault driver's insurance generally covers the cost of repairs, but you may be required to pay your deductible.
Even if you are the at-fault party, you may still recover the cost of medical bills and medical expenses with the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. So, it's prudent to keep a record of your medical care. A car accident lawyer can assess the facts of your case with a free consultation.
If You Caused a Car Accident, Get an Attorney's Help
Causing a car accident can have serious consequences. Personal injuries and car repairs can cost a bundle. If you don't have enough insurance to cover all the damages, the other drivers may attach your savings or other assets to make up the difference. You need to protect your interests. Get help from an experienced auto accident attorney.