The summer season is upon us, and it’s shaping up to be a busy one–which means more people are traveling on the roadways as they venture out to holiday celebrations and vacation destinations.
More people on the roads means more opportunities for an auto accident to occur–and whether it’s a fender bender or a more serious wreck, knowing what to do before you’re in an accident can help you avoid costly and headache-inducing mistakes if you do happen to get in one.
We’ve handled hundreds of auto accident cases, and here’s what we suggest doing before you leave the scene.
Ensure safety first
Don’t panic! A calm, cool head will help you think straight and take necessary action. Check yourself, your passengers, and the other vehicle occupants for injuries.
If there are no injuries and the vehicles are operational, move them off the road away from traffic. (But first, take photos with your cell phone, if it is safe to do so. If there is a chance the other driver might change their story about the cause of the accident, without photos or video, once the vehicles are moved before police arrive, the evidence of what happened may disappear.)
Otherwise, turn on hazard lights or set up warning triangles if you have them (we recommend keeping these in the trunk of your car just in case!).
If someone was injured in the accident, don’t move them unless they are in danger where they are. Wait for emergency help.
Call 911, get a police report, and don’t admit fault
If someone is injured or the vehicle damage exceeds a certain amount ($1,000 in North Carolina and South Carolina), you’ll need a police report. You may also need it to file your insurance claim, so we suggest erring on the side of caution and getting a written statement that includes the officer’s name, badge number, phone number, and the report number, along with all the key details of the accident.Plus, a detailed police report will come in handy later if you are not at fault and you decide to engage an auto accident lawyer to file a case against the at-fault party.
With this in mind, don’t admit fault at the scene. Without knowing the full extent of the damage or injuries incurred, it’s best to avoid making statements like these. You also should avoid:
- Saying that you aren’t injured. If you don’t believe you’re injured, tell medical responders that you don’t need treatment “at this time.” This will prevent any claims that you are unhurt, if it turns out to be otherwise down the road.
- Apologizing. It can seem to communicate that you are at-fault and be a hindrance if you decide to file a suit later
- Working a deal directly with the other driver in lieu of involving insurance
- Signing any documents, unless they are for the police or your own insurance company. But, even your own insurance company can become an adversary if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. So be cautious when signing anything with anyone.
Document the accident, including gathering witness contact information
In situations like these, having a neutral third party account is ideal. If there were witnesses, collect their contact information and see if they’ll wait for police to arrive so they can give their statement of events.
Also be sure to document the accident by taking photos of the vehicles, the scene, and any injuries. Plus, write the details of the accident as you remember them in your phone’s notes app while it’s still fresh on your mind.
Exchange Information with the other driver
Get the other driver’s name and insurance information before they depart the scene. You only need to collect (and provide) the information that’s required by state law, which includes your:
- Full name
- Insurance company
- Policy number
- Insurance company’s phone number
Contact your insurance company
You don’t have to contact your insurance company at the scene, but you’ll need to do it very quickly following the accident, especially if there are any injuries or there will be any claims.
Call Campbell & Associates
If you weren’t at fault and have sustained injuries and medical bills as a result, you’ll want an experienced personal injury lawyer to fight for you. We’ll uncover key details regarding your specific case, communicate with your car insurance company as well as the at-fault driver’s insurance company, collaborate with your medical team, and more to help you hold the responsible party accountable and fight for the triumphant outcome you deserve.
Have a question about what to do after an auto accident?
If you have questions about what to do after an auto accident or are wondering if you could file a claim on a recent accident, give the team at Campbell & Associates a call today at 704-333-0885 for a free, no-commitment consultation.
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