Seven Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Getting into a car accident can be stressful and overwhelming. You may have many thoughts all at once. “Is anyone injured? Should I call the police? Will my insurance cover this?” It is important to know what your rights and responsibilities are following a car accident. Although each situation is different, there are a few steps you should always take including:
- Stay at the scene. Regardless of the severity of the accident, never immediately drive away. Doing so can result in you being charged with a “hit and run.” If you are able to, move the car to a shoulder or other safe location. Turn on your hazard lights and pull out of the way of traffic.
- Call 911. If someone is injured or there is damage to property, you need to call the police. Calling the police will ensure that the accident is documented properly. Having a neutral third party to document the accident is always a safe choice.
- Exchange information with the other driver. Car insurance information, names, addresses, and phone numbers should be exchanged. Write this information down. It is better to have too much information than not enough. Having your insurance and insurance information in an easy-to-find location is always a smart idea. After an accident, emotions are running high, and this is not the time to have to go digging for your documents. Do not, however, apologize or admit liability, even if you think it was your fault. There may be factors of which you are unaware that could affect the designation of fault, such as the other driver texting while driving or driving drunk.
- Take photos and gather statements from witnesses. It is better to over-document an accident than under-document it. Take pictures of the damage to vehicles or property and speak to those who witnessed the accident. Collect names and phone numbers from witnesses if possible.
- File a police report. Even if the accident is minor, filing a police report can protect you from false allegations or misinformation. Laws requiring a police report after an accident vary from state to state but it is better to be on the safe side.
- Call your insurance company. Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Explain what happened objectively and truthfully.
- Consider hiring an attorney. If you or another individual was injured in the accident, extensive damage to property was done, or there is a disagreement about the cause of the accident, it is best to hire an attorney. An attorney will make sure your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
The moments following an auto accident can be chaotic and confusing. In fact, such confusion and uncertainty can last for weeks after the crash—and far longer if you are injured. Contact an experienced Monterey County personal injury attorney to discuss your situation and to get the guidance you need. Schedule your free consultation by calling (408) 298-7200 today.Sources