Auto accidents can be scary and confusing, and although most people don’t want to think that it could happen to them, it’s vital you know how to protect yourself and your future. The steps that you take now can make a difference if the incident goes to court, and you don’t want to take any unneeded chances. Even though people often make critical mistakes after getting involved with an accident, keeping the following tips in mind will give you the best odds of coming out ahead. No matter what happens, do what you can to stay calm and to make logical choices.
Stop Your Vehicle
If an accident is minor and does not result in a lot of damage, you might feel tempted to keep driving and to report the problem at a later time, but doing so is a mistake that you must avoid. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime and will make your situation worse than it already is. With safety in mind, pull as far to the side of the road as you can. If you have road flares in your trunk, placing them behind your vehicle will make you visible to other drivers, preventing you from getting hit.
Call the Police
As soon as you are out of harm’s way, you will want to call the police and to inform them of the accident. Some drivers opt not to contact the authorities if the accident did not cause much damage, but you will always want to have an official record on file for insurance purposes. While you are on the phone, the police officer will likely ask you several questions, but you don’t want to say too much because your words can be used against you if you go to court. You will only want to let them know about the accident and any injuries that have occurred.
The police will file a report when they arrive at the scene, but you still need to take the time to document as much as you can. Using your smartphone, take pictures of the damage to your car to use as evidence if needed. If a law enforcement officer asks you to file a report, be as honest and detailed as possible. You might not know the answer to everything, and admitting that you don’t know is better than listing false information. If you see any witnesses nearby, ask them for their contact information in case you need to reach them in the future.
Interacting With the Other Driver
You will need to interact with the other people who were involved with the accident, and the way that you approach this issue is important. Even if your emotions are high, avoid making any accusations at this point, and do everything that you can to prevent yourself from getting into a dispute on the side of the road. After expressing your concern for everyone’s safety, exchange insurance information.
Seek Medical Attention
In the moments that follow an accident, you won’t always feel the pain of your injuries right away. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to wake up a day or two later and notice that something is wrong. You don’t want to put your health at risk, so ensure that you consult a medical professional. Also, the medical files from your doctor visit can be used if you need to seek compensation for the damages. Going to the hospital might be an inconvenience, but it can prevent you from facing trouble in the long run.
Protect Your Legal Rights
Drivers often feel as though filing an official report with the insurance company is the correct path to follow after an accident, but it’s not always wise. Rather than wanting to help you, the insurance companies want to protect themselves from paying any more than needed. So before you speak with them, consult with a legal professional. The laws that relate to traffic accidents and personal injuries can be complex, confusing and difficult to navigate, but having a qualified legal professional on your side will help you get the compensation you need to pay your medical bills and to get on with your life.