A car accident can be jarring and frightening. It the aftermath, you may be dealing with injuries and shock. But speaking to involved parties, police, insurance companies, and more after an accident can be of crucial importance to you. It can help you or harm you. As a result, it’s important to know what not to do.
- Fail to report the accident to police
If no one was injured, and you don’t have to call 911, you may think no officials need to be involved. In fact, a police report is highly important. It’s used as evidence by insurance companies in determining fault. It can also be used in a trial, should there be one.
- Admit guilt, blame, or wrongdoing
Unfortunately, it’s all too common for people to blurt out statements like “I didn’t see her coming,” “I’m so sorry,” or even “how could I have been so stupid?” after an accident. Statements of this type can be overhead or even recorded on a cell phone. If they are, and an injured party takes you to court, that party can attempt to use these statements as evidence of guilt.
Don’t make any statements like this to police, other people at the scene, your medical personnel, or the insurance company.
- Fail to obtain information from other drivers
You need to get contact and insurance from any other driver(s). You also need to provide your own. If you leave in a no-fault state, your insurance may pay, but it’s still important to have full information.
- Fail to report the accident to your insurance company
You need to call your insurance company as soon as possible (after the police and a doctor’s visit). Give them full information on what happened and the other party’s information.
- Take any settlement
If you are injured in an accident, the insurance company of the at-fault party (the one whose actions caused the accident) may pressure you to take a settlement. In certain situations, the negligent party themselves may offer you a monetary settlement.
Accepting money for damages initially is not a good idea. It can take months for injuries to manifest and accident causes to be fully known. Consult with a lawyer before discussing any settlement.
If you are given a check, don’t deposit it. That could be viewed as forfeiting rights to a larger settlement.
- Leave the scene
Never, never leave the scene until after a police report has been filed. Leaving a scene is against the law in some states and local jurisdictions. If you leave quickly, it can be construed as a hit and run. Also, you want the evidence of a police report, and you need to contribute your testimony to that report.
- Neglect a medical check-up
If you aren’t injured, it may seem logical not to get a medical check-up. But people who’ve been in a car accident should always be checked out by a medical professional. Even if you don’t see lacerations or bruises, you could be injured. Traumatic brain injury doesn’t necessarily manifest in obvious ways. Neither do soft tissue, nerve, or other injuries.
The best bet is either going to an emergency room or your regular doctor. This needs to occur as soon as possible after the accident; don’t delay.