The fact that there are close to six million car accidents in the United States every year or about 16,000 a day is almost a prediction that anyone can be involved in one throughout their lifetimes. Most likely, it will happen when you least expect it and many things will be completely out of your control. What you can do, is be prepared. Knowing the basics of car accident law will make the whole unpleasant experience much easier to deal with. Read on to learn what you need to do (or not do) should you find yourself involved in a car accident:
Call the Police
If you are not hurt or if your injuries allow you to, call 911. They will send a police officer along with an ambulance if that is necessary. As soon as the police officer arrives at the scene, they will start collecting all the needed information to create an accident report. Get a copy since your insurance company will need it.
The emergency medical personnel will take care of the injuries and transport victims to hospitals if necessary.
Document the Accident
You may not think there is anything for you to do in this regard, after all, the police were already there and you have a copy of their report. However, it is important for you to put together a file on the accident. Take down the badge number and name of the officer filing the report. Then take pictures of every angle for both vehicles and any other evidence that may have played a role in the accident, such as uneven pavement, poorly marked streets, or other obstacles.
Gather information on the other driver or drivers. Get their contact information, their license plate, and insurance information. Also, if there are any witnesses, get their contact information and narrative of what happened.
As for you, write down your own version of what happened. Try to remember every detail and do this pretty soon after the accident. You don’t want to risk forgetting some important fact.
If you are injured and need to be transported to a healthcare facility, ask someone at the scene to give you a hand with this step.
Don’t Admit Fault
Never lie to a police officer. Limit yourself to providing an honest explanation of what happened without making any comments regarding whose fault it was. You don’t want your insurance company to deny compensation for this reason.
It is the officer’s role to determine who they think caused the accident and include this finding in the report. Also, don’t discuss what happened with anyone that could later be called as a witness. Limit what information you share.
Don’t Accept a Settlement Agreement Before Talking to a Lawyer
You may find that your car insurance agent offers you a settlement agreement. You may even feel pressured to accept this amount. They may try to convince you that this is a great deal or that any other alternative would just take too long.
Talk to a car accident attorney and have them negotiate with your insurance company. You can rest assured that they will do a better job negotiating a fair amount than you could.
Car accidents are stressful and complicated. If you read more about car accidents you will definitely be better prepared.