5 Things to Remember if You’re in an Auto Accident
Getting in a car accident is stressful, scary, and rattling. No two accidents are the same and it can be difficult to think clearly when you’re involved in one – no matter how serious. However, it’s important that you follow some specific steps to physically and legally protect yourself. Here are five things to remember if you’re in an auto accident.
- Check for Injuries
The very first thing you should do after an accident is check for injuries. Start with yourself and make sure you’re able to safely move around. It’s best to do a visual check. When you’ve been in an accident, your adrenaline will be pumping and your brain may not immediately recognize pain signals. If you appear to be fine, immediately check on the other passengers in your vehicle. Attend to their needs and call an ambulance if necessary.
After you’ve checked on everyone, you may get out of your vehicle (assuming it’s safe to do so) and check on the drivers and passengers in the other vehicles. You’ll obviously need to call an ambulance if they’ve sustained serious injuries.
- Move the Vehicle to a Safe Area
If there are any injuries whatsoever, you need to stay on the scene (even if both parties agree it’s okay for you to leave). In fact, if an injury has occurred, you’re required by state law to remain on the scene. By leaving, you could be charged with a hit-and-run.
If there are no serious injuries, it may be wise to move all affected vehicles to a safe area off of the road. This ensures there aren’t any additional accidents as a result of the primary accident. Before moving the vehicles to a safer area, you may want to take pictures to document the actual scene.
- Never Admit Fault
One important, yet often overlooked fact is that you should never admit fault in an auto accident. It doesn’t matter if it was 100 percent your fault, you should remain silent. Feel free to sympathize with the drivers of the other vehicles, but avoid saying things like, “my bad,” “I’m sorry,” or “I made a mistake.” These statements could come back to hurt you if a case were ever filed against you.
- Call the Police to the Scene
While people will often want to settle an accident without a police report, it’s wise to go ahead and call them to the scene. Even in minor instances, a police report can prove invaluable when dealing with your car insurance company. If a police officer cannot make it to the scene, you can typically file an accident report through the state DMV.
- Gather and Document Information
While waiting on the police to arrive, begin gathering as much documentation as possible. Make notes of what happened so that you’ll be able to recall the details later. Get the other driver’s information, license plate number, insurance details, and the name and badge number of responding officers after they arrive. You may eventually need some or all of this information when filing a claim with your insurance company.
- Proceed with Caution
If you’re in a car accident, the moral of the story is to proceed with caution. Not only do you want to make sure everyone involved is safe, but you also want to protect yourself from potential legal consequences.
As you always hear on TV crime shows, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law.” In other words, be careful with your words and actions. Regardless of who is at fault, you should make it your goal to be calculated and honest in everything you do.