Car collisions are serious and often traumatic events, and the moments following them are filled with adrenaline and confusion. While it can be difficult to think clearly immediately after an accident, it’s important to compose yourself so you can handle the situation appropriately.
With winter not too far away now, collisions and accidents will be even more frequent. We hope you never have to use this information, but we’ve gathered a list of “Dos and Don’ts” to keep in mind nonetheless.
Do immediately call 911
Regardless of circumstances and before all else, you must alert the authorities by calling 911. They will send all appropriate emergency services to the scene. If no one’s hurt, you’ll still need a police report when it comes to dealing with the insurance companies (and more on that later).
Do get out of the vehicle quickly and safely
If the accident occurred on any sort of roadway, you’ll want to exit the vehicle as soon as it’s safe to do so. If you’re on the highway—and this is important—you’ll want to exit the vehicle from the passenger side (if possible) and move yourself to the berm, away from the vehicle.
Do get the other party’s information
From the slightest of fender benders to serious collisions, it’s critical that all parties exchange insurance and contact information before leaving the scene. Ask for the other party’s insurance card and driver’s license so you can write them down yourself. The unfortunate reality is many drivers illegally neglect to carry insurance, and they might refuse to give over any details, or they may provide false information.
Do take pictures
Nearly every cellphone—smartphone or not—has a camera capable of taking anywhere from good to high-quality pictures. Use your phone to take pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved, as well as pictures of the cars’ positions in the roadway. You’ll want the police and insurance companies to see where the vehicles were when the collision happened.
Do gather witness accounts
If there were witnesses, ask them what they saw and take note of the information they provide. You should ask for their contact information as well. Witness and victim testimonies are notoriously more and more inaccurate as time goes on, so having written record is important, even if it’s not legally airtight.
Don’t move your vehicle (unless you have to)
Unless the law requires (such as on highways and busy roadways), do not move your vehicle from the scene of the accident to the side of the road or the parking lot next to it. Don’t let other parties move their vehicles, either. For one, the police (and you) should document where the vehicles were to determine fault. For two, it is a good opportunity for a party to flee the scene.
Don’t admit fault
To err is human nature, and apologies can sometimes be a reflexive response. However, it’s important not to admit any fault for the collision. Even a simple “I’m sorry” could give the other party a legal leg to stand on if details are disputed.
Don’t leave the scene
Do not leave the scene of a crash before speaking with the authorities and obtaining the contact and insurance information of all parties involved. It is a serious crime. We repeat: do not leave the scene of a crash before speaking with the authorities and obtaining the contact information of all parties involved. It is a serious crime.
Don’t wait to get a lawyer
Many people wait to contact an attorney until they’re having trouble with the other party or their insurance company. If there is any kind of vehicle damage or physical injury, it’s best to get a lawyer involved sooner than later. Many attorneys—including Lloyd & Lloyd Lawyers—will give you a free evaluation.
Don’t agree to any settlement on your own
Do not under any circumstances accept any kind of out-of-pocket settlement from the other party in place of filing an insurance claim. They are by no means obligated to honor it, and you will be left with little to no recourse if they don’t.
Even if insurance is involved, you should not accept a settlement from the insurance company without consulting an attorney. Insurance companies will push back on every fraction of a cent they have to pay out, so there’s a good chance you’re not getting just compensation without a lawyer’s help.
Lloyd & Lloyd Lawyers have been representing clients in Northeast Oklahoma for over 40 years. We specialize in personal injury cases resulting from car and truck accidents, and we make sure that every client gets the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, let us help you. Contact us here to get a free evaluation of your case.