No one likes to think about it, but car accidents can and do happen every single day. Knowing what to do when you are involved in a mishap is essential. Being in an accident can be a devastating and traumatic experience, but it is important to keep your wits about you, keep your cool and know what to say and do (and what not to say and do).
In order to protect your rights and your rights to recover from any potential injuries, it is important to follow the nine steps outlined below: Some of these steps may not seem important at first blush, but all of these steps are incredibly important.
- Remain calm and protect yourself. Being in an accident is a traumatic experience, but it is important to stay calm and not get into an argument with the other driver. Arguing after an accident is a pointless exercise, and it can be dangerous if the other driver becomes agitated or unstable.
- Go to the hospital, even if you do not feel like you have been injured. It is also important to seek medical attention even if you do not think you have been injured. Injuries can take a few days to present themselves, and by then it could be too late. Be sure to go to the hospital even if you feel OK. You can’t be too careful when it comes to accident injuries.
- Resist the urge to apologize to the other driver. Many drivers will automatically apologize when an accident occurs, but this can be a big mistake. Offering apologies to the other driver may imply guilt, and that could hurt you later on.
- Contact the authorities right away. You may think you know what happened and how the accident occurred, but it is important to get the expert opinion of the authorities. Contacting the authorities will also help to preserve your rights and establish a timeline for the accident. In addition, the accident report will provide valuable information for the insurance companies involved.
- Get witness statements from anyone who may have seen what happened. Witness statements are vital to establishing who was at fault, what happened and the extent of any injuries. Look around right away and talk to those who witnessed the accident. Be sure to get the names, phone numbers and addresses of those witnesses so that you or your insurance company can follow up later on.
- Provide your complete contact information to the other drivers involved and to the authorities when they respond. Be sure to provide not only a home phone number but a work number and cell phone number as well. Also provide your full name and address. This will make it easier for others to contact you for additional information.
- Record the facts of the accident as soon as you can. Memories can fade quickly, so be sure to write down what happened, where all of the involved vehicles were located, the speed you were traveling, the location of the crash and other pertinent details. This information will be important when filing an insurance claim.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Your insurance company will need to know right away when you have been involved in an accident. Be sure to contact your insurance agent or the company’s toll-free claims reporting line as soon as you can. Reporting the accident promptly will help to get the ball rolling.
- Contact your attorney. You may not think that it is necessary to call your lawyer, but doing so is the best way to protect your rights. A good attorney will be able to advise you on what your next steps should be. The attorney will also be able to guide you through the claims and settlement process. Remember the insurance company will be looking out for their own best interests, which may not coincide with your needs at this difficult time.