When you get into a car accident, there can be a lot of stress and it can feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s most important to stay calm and take care of yourself and your passengers before worrying about the legal side of things. Report the accident to law enforcement, document as much as you can, and always speak to an attorney before accepting, signing, or saying anything
There are more than 16,000 car accidents in the United States every day. Despite the statistics and the high probability, most people still think it won’t happen to them. If you’re one of these people, it may not seem important to learn about what you should and shouldn’t do after getting into a car accident. But we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your safety.
That’s why we’ve compiled a checklist of 6 things to do if you’ve been in car accident—and 6 things not to do. Hopefully, you will never need to use this list in your life, but it’s best to be prepared for anything.
6 Things to Do After a Car Accident
- Seek Medical Attention — The most important thing after an accident is to make sure you and your passengers are okay. If you or anyone else in the vehicle has been injured, call 911 to seek medical help immediately. Sometimes internal injuries are not visible to the untrained eye, such as a concussion. In some cases, it may be wise to seek medical attention even if you’re not sure there’s an injury. Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Call the Police — Even if you don’t call 911 for a physical injury, it’s still important to have the police there to document the accident and take your report. Without a police record, the insurance companies can only take your word against the other driver’s. It’s important to cooperate with the law enforcement and emergency responders who arrive at the scene. The police can also help direct traffic if you’re on a busy speedway.
- Exchange Information with the Other Driver — Make sure you write down the other driver’s license plate number, insurance information, car registration number, driver’s license number, and their car’s make, model, and year. Get their phone number and address, too, so you can keep in touch in the coming days or weeks. You should also obtain the contact information for all people involved, including witnesses of the accident.
- Take Photos of the Scene — It’s crucial to take photos of the scene of the accident from as many angles as you can. Practically everyone has a camera on their phone, but you can also keep a digital or disposable camera in your car if you’d prefer. Be sure to get all the vehicles involved and the surrounding area in the pictures. You should also take pictures of any injuries you received and any property damage that was caused by the accident.
- Make a Note of the Details — When you report the accident to your insurance company, you will need to know the exact date, time, location, and weather that the accident occurred in. Make sure to note these details before leaving the scene of the accident. You might also want to draw a diagram of the accident, as this can help your report as well.
- Report the Accident — Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible to notify them of the accident and fill out a report. It’s very important, however, not to speak to them about the details of the accident or sign any forms until you have contacted and spoken to an attorney.
Even if it seems minor to you, don’t get rid of anything to do with the accident which could be considered evidence.
6 Things NOT to Do After a Car Accident
- Move Your Vehicle — Unless a law enforcement officer directs you to move as a safety necessity, or it’s required by law, you should leave your vehicle where it was at the moment of the accident. This will ensure the report and photos are as accurate as possible and document exactly what happened without modification or exaggeration.
- Leave the Scene — Stay at the site of the accident until you have received medical attention and the police have responded. Wait until a law enforcement officer permits you to leave, and make sure you get the contact, car, and insurance information from all applicable parties before you do.
- Discuss the Accident — After an accident occurs, you should file a report with the police, contact an attorney, and notify your insurance company. However, you should not discuss the accident with anyone except law enforcement before consulting an attorney. That includes your insurance agent.Part of that is also refraining from apologizing or saying anything else that admits blame in an accident. Even if you think you are at fault, there could be other circumstances you’re not aware of that take away the blame. Additionally, don’t accuse the other driver of causing the accident. The best thing to do is let the evidence speak for itself.
- Throw Away Evidence — Even if it seems minor to you, don’t get rid of anything to do with the accident which could be considered evidence. This includes bloodstained and torn clothing, defective products, and any parts of your car that may have come off in the accident.
- Record a Statement — Your insurance company—or the other driver’s—may contact you after an accident and ask if they can record a statement from you. You have a right to refuse being recorded, and it’s important to exercise that right. The insurance company may try to confuse you so your story is slightly different, and they can use that against you later on. Talk to an attorney first before moving forward.
- Agree to a Settlement — Sometimes you may be offered settlement terms before you’ve had a chance to consult an attorney and have them review it. Don’t accept these terms without guidance from a law professional. You may be able to settle for more.
If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.