19th Aug 2015
Car accidents can be extremely frightening, and not everyone is lucky enough to survive and be able to walk away without significant injuries that require immediate hospitalization. The most important thing to do following the accident is to ensure your safety and the safety of others who were involved, but the next steps that you take can also be critical in how well you are able to handle the long-term consequences of the accident. There is a lot to think about, and a lot to do, so make sure you know what steps to take.
Contact the Authorities
It’s important that you never leave the scene of an auto accident until you are cleared to do so by the proper authorities. For most accidents your first step should be to call the police, especially if there is significant damage to yours or another vehicle, or if there are any injuries. This way you will have a police report that outlines exactly what the authorities observed when they arrived on scene, which will be vital in filing claims with insurance later.
Note Any Witnesses
If the accident occurred in a place where someone might have seen what happened, you should immediately make a note of these potential witnesses. Not everyone will have useful information or will have seen what transpired, but sometimes these third-part accounts are critical in building a case for determine who’s at fault and obtaining proper compensation.
Don’t Discuss the Accident With Other Drivers
Perhaps one of the most critical mistakes that most people make is that they immediately apologize for something they think they did that might have caused the accident. While your inclination might be to say you are sorry or to believe that you could be at fault, it’s important that you let the investigators do their job to determine what actually happened. Admitting fault when it was not your fault can seriously harm your case with insurance companies later. However, you should be cordial and cooperative in exchanging information like name, address, license plate, driver’s license number, and phone numbers with other drivers. Note the same information for any passengers.
Call An Attorney and Your Insurance Company
If you think someone else might have been at fault, or you are concerned about not getting fair compensation for injuries or damage, it is beneficial to involve an attorney. You do want to notify your insurance company as quickly as possible, but in some cases you are better off to hire an attorney first so they can properly deal with your insurance company and help you avoid some common mistakes drivers make that can limit what insurance pays. Also make sure you keep track of all paperwork, receipts, and information related to the accident, since you will need these for both insurance and legal action, if necessary.