Being involved in a serious car accident can be a life-changing event. Not only is it a stressful situation, but it has potential legal implications it resulted in property damages and injuries.
How you act at the scene of the accident and in the coming months will be critical from a legal perspective. It is essential to know what you should and should not do as you move forward with claims.
So let’s explore 10 things that you should definitely not do after an accident.
1. Do not admit fault
Even if you feel that the accident was primarily your fault, do not make any such admissions. Be very cautious what you say at the accident scene.
You will be required to make a statement to the police. Make sure that you do not admit any liability in your statement. Give as much information as you need to describe your version of events and no more.
Any admissions made by yourself can be, and most probably will be, used against you by the other party or their representatives or even the police. Instead, concentrate on assessing the situation. Then, make sure you offer any injured people medical assistance and co-operate with 911 and the police once they arrive.
2. Do not leave the scene of the accident
It is a criminal offense to leave the scene of the accident. Even in the absence of apparent injuries with only minor damage to the vehicles, you are obliged to report the accident, assess that everyone is OK, and exchange insurance information.
3. Do not lose your temper
You may feel a natural urge to vent at the other driver, especially when the accident was clearly the other driver’s fault. Resist the urge to do this. Remember that you are under stress and don’t know anything about the other driver. Your aggression may be met by violence which will only worsen matters. Remember that others are witnesses to your actions, and they are all potential witnesses.
4. Do not forget to get the contact details of the other drivers
In the chaos, it is easy to forget to obtain the contact details of other drivers. Make a point of doing so. Try to also get their insurance details. Contact details and statements from any witnesses could prove invaluable later if facts are contested.
5. Do not forget to write down your recollection of events
Make sure that within a day or two of the accident, you commit your version of the accident to paper so you can refer to this later to refresh your memory. Memories fade over time. Provide as much detail as you can, being careful to record your recollection of how the accident happened. Remember to write down the time and date and the weather and driving conditions if relevant.
6. Do not forget to take photos of the accident scene, if possible
Your smartphone is a fantastic device. It has a camera and a video recorder. Use it to take photos at the scene for your records. License plates, license discs, skid marks, vehicle damage, and sustained injuries are invaluable evidence.
7. Do not forget to report the accident to your insurance company
It is essential to advise your insurance company of the accident soon after the accident. Tell the truth, but do not admit fault to your insurance company. Doing so could affect negatively impact your claim.
8. Do not fail to hire a car accident lawyer
Suppose there are any significant injuries and damage to property. In that case, it is wise to appoint a car accident lawyer to protect your interests.
Click here for information on how to choose the best car accident lawyer.
9. Do not engage with insurance companies without your lawyer
Insurance companies are notorious for extracting information from people and then using this information to reduce the payout. Lawyers are fully aware of these tactics and will assist you to stay out of trouble, especially when dealing with the other side’s insurance company.
Most importantly, do not sign any settlement agreements without consulting your lawyer. First settlement offers are almost always way below par. Your attorney will make sure that any offers you can sign are genuine and fair offers.
10. Do not hide facts from your attorney
Be totally candid with your lawyer about everything. Your attorney cannot represent you without knowing your truth.
Avoid the pitfalls outlined above, and you will be off to a good start. If it is possible to call your attorney at the accident scene, that would be the best-case scenario. However, the next best step is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Jeremy Biberdorf is a long-time internet marketing pro turned online entrepreneur and blogger. Check out his investing blog at Modest Money.
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