Worldwide, up to 50 million people are involved in non-fatal accidents annually, and another 1.35 million die from sustained injuries. The World Health Organization estimate also includes the annual fatality rate of Americans which, in 2017, led to 37,133 fatality-related deaths. To better protect your legal interests, here is what an experienced police officer advises you do if ever in a car accident.
Remain on the Scene
Never leave the scene of an accident regardless of damage. State laws vary, so you will want to confer with local ordinances to see if you live in an optional area when the damage is minimal. California law requires drivers to report all accidents involved in auto collisions if an injury or fatality occurs or if property damage exceeds $750.
Even when you do not meet the minimum state requirements, you will benefit by calling the police as people do not feel injuries until much later. Also, some drivers give false insurance information which is difficult to collect when there is no finding of negligence.
Detail Your Experience
Never make a statement you are unsure of to an officer as it is part of the official investigation which often determines negligence. Never provide information if the sentence starts with “I think” or “I believe” as police officers need factual, accurate accounts to establish findings. Negligence will have a legal or financial consequence.
Never disrupt a scene or allow a driver to move a car until you take pictures and capture evidence. Grab your smartphone and document the area and injuries when safe to do so. If you are unable to do it at the scene, take pictures of any injuries when possible.
While officers collect information, it is a great idea to also document driver, car, insurance, and witness information in case you need it when filing an insurance claim.
Call Your Insurer to Report an Accident
Your insurer is your first line of defense, so call your provider to report an accident. An insurance representative will be able to define your coverage options as well as help you make arrangements for medical care, a rental car, or estimates and repairs.
Seek Medical Intervention
Some auto injuries do not show up until hours later after swelling and bruising occurs. Seek medical attention for an injury as it will likely become more painful in time.
Short-term memory span is less than twenty seconds and recalls on average seven details. To help later on, keep notes about events. Include driver information, an account of the accident, insurance adjuster’s information, or meeting and phone conversations.
Protect Your Interests
The most vital part of a driver’s rights and responsibilities is access to an experienced Auto Accident Attorney who will provide legal advice, enforce insurance protection, establish negligence, and protect your legal and financial interests.
Knowledge is a critical component for risk reduction as you will know how to respond. The more you know about the process, the lower the risk of fault, negligence, or financial responsibility.