Think about this quote:
“Over the course of a typical long, driving lifetime, you should have
a total of three to four accidents.” –Forbes.com
It makes you think, right? Deep down, most people know auto accidents are inevitable, yet they typically don’t put much thought into what they should do when one actually does happen. Should you call the police? What should or shouldn’t you say to the other driver? These are questions that immediately come up after an auto accident, and knowing the answers to them ahead of time will help a lot.
With this in mind, here’s a simple overview of the steps to take after an auto accident:
- First off, make sure everyone is okay. If not, attend to urgent injuries, otherwise call 911 immediately. It’s not illegal to simply exchange insurance information and move on, and many people are tempted to do so. While this may suffice in some situations, in most accidents you will need the thorough documentation provided by a police officer. This documentation is extremely valuable when presenting your case to your attorney or to your insurance company. If you don’t have one it will be your word against the other person’s.
- If possible, move the vehicles as far out of the way of traffic as you can. Traffic jams only make the scene of the accident more hectic, and the last thing you need after an accident is another accident.
- Get a police report and DO NOT admit fault. As stated before, a police report is invaluable in any accident situation. Such documentation goes a long way in presenting your case in various situations. Also, no matter what the circumstances may be, it’s best to not discuss the details of the accident with anyone other than the police. Anything you say, including an admission of fault, can be used against you in future proceedings.
- Take pictures. This is an important step that many people simply do not think about after an accident but it can help a lot when speaking with your personal injury attorney or submitting to your insurance company for a claim.
- Write down as many details as you can and get witness statements. Time, date, location, weather conditions, and anything else you think could be useful. In this situation, more details are better. Also, find anyone close by that may have seen what happened and write down their statement. After you get each person’s statement, make sure you get them to sign verifying what they saw.
- Contact your insurance company but DO NOT sign anything. Notify your insurance company of the accident immediately but do not give a statement yet. Get as much information as possible including time limits for filing a claim. Don’t file a claim immediately unless you are absolutely sure it’s in your best interest. Simply gather as much information as you can so you can make an informed decision that’s best for you. Do not speak to the other party’s insurance company and DO NOT sign anything.
- Keep track of all expenses that result from your accident. Medical bills, rental car expenses, loss of wages, any resulting therapy, etc. You could be reimbursed for your expenses, and if you don’t have this documentation when the time comes, you’ll be stuck holding the bill. It’s always better to have too much information that not enough.
- If you are injured or have extensive damage, consult with a personal injury attorney before you go any further. He or she will be able to better inform you of your rights and advise you on what your next steps should be.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto accident, we can help. Contact our office at 256-232-2310 and let us go to work for you. Click here to talk to us about your case.