What to do if you’ve been involved in a car accident

Car Accident

Car accidents are a very common sight, and unfortunately, many people find themselves involved in one at some point in time. According to statistics, there are more than 6 million car accidents on US roads annually. More than 3 million people are injured in those accidents, with more than 2 million of those injuries being permanent. If you are involved in a wreck, there are a number of things you need to do. If the wreck was not your fault and you were injured, you will have the burden of proof to show that the other driver was liable, or responsible, and to prove your damages, which can include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. If you find yourself involved in a car accident, we recommend that you do the following:

STOP AND CALL POLICE

Whether the fault is yours or someone else’s, you must stop your vehicle and remain at the scene. Do not get out of your vehicle unless you can do so safely. Assuming you can safely exit your vehicle, you may inquire if the other driver is okay and inform him or her that you are calling authorities. Do not get out of your vehicle if you are in a deserted area or if the accident seems suspicious. Trust your gut in this situation; if something seems off, it is best to remain in your car and contact police. If your vehicle is in the roadway or causing significant traffic problems, you may want to move your car to the shoulder and you should advise the other driver that you are moving your car so that he does not think you are fleeing. Call 911 as soon as you can. Be sure to report any injuries so that an ambulance can also be dispatched to the scene. If you think you have been injured in the accident, you should seek immediate medical attention.

LIMIT CONVERSATIONS – NEVER ADMIT FAULT

Accidents can make victims very nervous. Oftentimes, when people are nervous, they talk…a lot. Really try to limit conversations at the scene and under no circumstances should you admit fault or say you are sorry. You should cooperate with law enforcement, but do not admit fault or apologize. If there are witnesses who have stayed at the scene, ask for their contact information. Sometimes it is not included in the police report and it is impossible to track them down later. Ask everyone else involved if they are alright. Do not elaborate on your injuries or past injuries. This is a situation where not doing a lot of talking is generally in your favor.

DOCUMENT DAMAGE INCLUDING TAKING PHOTOS

While at the scene, take photos of all vehicles involved. If there are important items at the scene (skid marks, traffic signals, etc.) it is a good idea to also take photographs of those. If you do not have a way of taking photographs at the scene, document damage as best as you can. Pay particular attention to your injuries and property damage and write down notes if possible.

FILE A CLAIM

As soon as possible following an accident, you will want to report the wreck to your insurance company. Your insurance policy requires that you cooperate with your insurance company and as such, you should be forthcoming with information to YOUR company. You can also report the claim to the at fault drivers insurance carrier. However, you should be reminded that they are employed for the purposes of looking out for someone else’s interest and you should be extremely careful when sharing information with them regarding your claim. If you plan to hire a lawyer, the attorney can report the claim for you to the at-fault driver’s carrier and share the information they need to investigate the claim.

HIRE A LAWYER

If you are injured in a car accident and it is not your fault, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney. They can assist you with filing a claim against the at fault driver’s insurance company and maximizing your recovery. Generally, if the accident was minor involving just small property damage and no injuries, you can handle the claim yourself. However, for a serious accident or an accident with injuries, being represented by counsel allows an attorney to fight for your rights while you focus on your recovery.

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