Car accidents happen every day and most of us will experience at least one (or more) in our lifetimes, even though we never expect it to. For this reason alone, it is helpful to know what to do after a car accident. Yet, despite what your parents may have told you, exchanging insurance information should actually be the least of your concerns, especially if you are looking to preserve any personal injury claims you may have against the other driver. Here are the 4 things you need to focus on to ensure that you preserve your claim.
1) Do not leave. Depending upon the severity of the accident, you may be tempted to scuff out the scratch in the bumper and be on your way. Do not give in to this temptation. What you may not know or appreciate at the time is the extent of the damage to your own car, and more importantly, any injuries you or the other driver may have sustained. By leaving, you will almost certainly negate any chance of a later claim; and, you may give the other driver leverage in a claim against you for their damages.
2) Stay safe. If your accident occurs on a busy highway, your safety is paramount. If you are able, get to the side of the road as soon as possible to avoid further injury. If your accident happens at night on a dark road and you have no working headlights, take a flashlight and stand on the side of the road. If the area is relatively quiet with low traffic, you may be able to stay in your car and wait. Unless the vehicles are impeding traffic, do not move them from where they came to rest after the accident.
3) Call the police. Again, depending upon the severity of the accident, the police have several different roles they can play here. At the bare minimum, they will issue a police report of the accident, which will be extremely useful when you make a claim to your insurance company (or that of the other driver). If the accident is more involved, the police will sort how the chain of events occurred, and in some cases, they may bring charges depending upon who was at fault. Police can also be important witnesses, especially if the other driver is displaying bizarre or obviously intoxicated behavior. The police report may also identify additional witnesses who could be contacted later.
4) Document your damages. Smart phones do have the extremely useful benefit of including cameras. Make use of this feature extensively in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Document every angle of the damage and take videos if necessary to give the full picture of the aftermath. This can be particularly helpful later on to accident reconstruction experts, if they are needed, or at the very least, can show the level of damage immediately afterwards. It is also vitally important to give the police a straightforward, clear, and complete description of what happened without embellishment or guessing. Most importantly, if you are asked if you are injured, remember that some injuries can take some time to manifest, thus the best answer is “I’m not sure.”
In addition to these steps, the most important thing you can do after an accident is get in touch with a knowledgeable and experienced Texas personal injury attorney who can evaluate your claim and assist you in dealing with your insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, and other related issues. Our firm is reliable, available, and ready to assist you with your claim. Papa is your attorney!