Independence Day is one of the most-traveled holidays of the year. Drivers should be especially vigilant on this holiday and the weekends before and after it. With all the excitement surrounding this special day, it’s important to always wear your seatbelt, follow the speed limit and other applicable laws, and eliminate distractions so you can focus on the road.
Even if you’re a safe driver, there’s still a chance that others may be negligent. Being involved in a car accident can leave you feeling a bit scatterbrained, so it’s important to brush up on post-accident procedures before any accidents happen. The guide below will remind you of seven things you should always do after an accident, and three to never do.
You have a legal obligation to stay at the scene of a car accident you are involved in. This is important to do even if the accident wasn’t your fault or is very minor.
Move to a safe area, if possible
If the accident occurred on a busy street, pull into the nearest parking lot or residential block, or pull as far to the side of the road as possible. You want to get out of the way of traffic so that you don’t get injured by passing cars or block traffic flow.
Call the police
The investigating officer will file an official report summarizing the facts of the car accident. The report also includes information about the drivers and their insurance policies, damages to the vehicles, and injuries of the drivers and passengers. The officer will provide both drivers with the report number, which they can typically access online shortly after the accident. The officer may also issue tickets to one or both of the drivers for applicable traffic violations.
Limit your communication with the other driver to the exchange of relevant personal information. The responding police officer will collect this information, but you may also ask the driver for their name, address, phone number, and insurance information. Gathering information from witnesses may also prove valuable if you end up getting an attorney involved.
Having pictures of the accident scene can be a big help if you need to recount the event at a later date. If you are able, use your phone to take pictures of things like the cars’ damages, your injuries, the other driver, the police officer, witnesses, and nearby traffic signs.
Seek medical attention
When you call the police, the dispatcher will ask if you need Emergency Medical Services (EMS). You should be evaluated by a trained Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) if you’re experiencing any pain or other symptoms. Injuries from minor car accidents, like whiplash, aren’t always apparent right after the accident, but you should still get checked out unless you are absolutely sure that you don’t have any injuries.
Notify the insurance companies
The at-fault party should be the one to report the accident to their insurance company, but they may hesitate to do so. You should protect yourself by contacting the at-fault driver’s insurance, as well as your own. Generally speaking, your insurance rates should not go up if you weren’t at fault. If you didn’t cause the accident, there’s no reason to not file a claim.
Never admit fault
Never discuss fault with the other driver—handle that later with the insurance companies. If you tell anyone the accident was your fault, you’re legally admitting liability for it. This could expose you to lawsuits or other legal penalties.
Never lose your cool
You need to be in a good frame of mind to document the accident, so take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
Never neglect your injuries
Seek medical attention for any injuries you get from the accident. Remember that some injuries may get worse before they get better, so all injuries should be monitored until they are healed. Emotional hardship may also arise after being involved in a car accident. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Protect Your Rights
The experienced car accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins know the ins and outs of dealing with insurance companies after a car accident. We can help you get the compensation you deserve and get you on the road to recovery. Call (800) 794-0444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today to set up a consultation. All consultations are free and confidential.