For the average person, knowing what to do and say after a car accident is about as far from their plans as any important priority can get. Being prepared for a car accident is vitally important, however. When you are facing potential civil and criminal liability, insurance issues, car repairs and injuries, thinking straight and taking the right steps in the right order is difficult, to be sure. The alternative isn’t what most people prefer to face.
Leaving aside the determination of who was at fault or why, there are steps you can take to protect yourself if you are involved in a collision. If you follow the right recommendations, you will find yourself in a much better position in the days and weeks following the accident. In the process you might even save yourself a ton of expense and stress.
After you have notified first responders, administered first aid if you can, and seen to the safety of any bystanders, you should notify the police if you are required to do so by law. Once the police arrive, however, aside from performing your legal duty to identify yourself, you should keep your mouth shut. Further, you should make it clear you will not consent to search of your vehicle or person.
While it may seem this makes you sound uncooperative, the truth is you may be facing criminal liability, and if you are, your attorney will recommend the same thing. Remain silent. Let your lawyer do the talking.
The greatest invention ever made available to victims of a car accident is that mobile device you are carrying around in your pocket. A camera with unlimited film is an accident investigator’s dream, so use it. Take pictures of every document, every license plate and all the visible damage to every vehicle.
Once you’ve covered the scene, get pictures of the road, signs, any nearby surveillance cameras, the weather conditions and any visible addresses. If you can find witnesses at the scene, record their statements with their permission and take pictures of their identification. Take pictures of the interiors of any other vehicles at the scene. Anything in plain sight is fair game.
Four months later, when you are the only person who can re-construct the accident scene, you’ll be in a fine position to protect your rights in the event of a dispute.
Let Your Car Accident Attorney Report
Your insurance company likely requires you to report an accident within a certain time interval. Let your attorney make this report. The reason is very simple. Your insurance company will be looking for every opportunity to avoid liability and refuse to honor your claim. If you inadvertently admit fault, create ambiguity or give your claim agent any excuse, you will find your coverage hard to obtain.
Your attorney studied the insurance code in law school. Let them navigate your policy for you. While you’re thinking about it, why not find out if your insurer provides coverage for a lawyer? If not, maybe it’s time to change policies.
The top priority after an accident is to protect your own interests. It is not to cooperate with the other drivers, nor is it to spend 20 minutes admitting fault to the police six different ways. Follow the recommendations your car accident attorney provides and save yourself the trouble of being unfairly blamed.
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