NHTSA reports that there were 6,277,000 police-reported car crashes in the U.S. in 2017 alone. This means that, on average, there were about 17,000 car accidents every day. Car accidents can be very traumatic and often leave you feeling shaken up and confused.
No one ever expects to get into a car accident. But if you find yourself in one, there are some important steps you’ll need to take to ensure everyone involved is safe and that you preserve your legal rights.
Seeking Medical Attention
The first and most crucial step immediately after a car accident is to make sure everyone involved is okay. Even if you don’t appear to be injured, it’s important to have a medical professional evaluate you as soon as possible after an accident.
Some injuries, such as a concussion, may not be immediately apparent. This means that you could be injured and not even know it. If you’re able to, check on the other driver and any passengers in your car to see if they are injured. If anyone is injured, call 911 right away.
A police report will probably be filed, and you’ll need to exchange insurance information with the other driver. As a car accident lawyer in Boca Raton will advise you, this report will be important should you need to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit later on.
In the aftermath of a car accident, it’s common to feel like it was your fault, even if it wasn’t. You may be tempted to apologize to the other driver or to accept blame for the accident. But you should resist this urge. Anything you say to the other driver or the police at the scene can be used against you later on.
Instead, simply exchange insurance information with the other driver and wait for the police to arrive. You can give them a brief statement of what happened, but avoid admitting fault or placing blame on anyone else. Important information that can be exchanged often includes full names and contact information of all involved parties, insurance company name and policy number, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and vehicle make, model, and year.
If you’re able to do so, try to gather evidence at the scene of the accident. This may include taking photos of the damage to all vehicles involved, as well as any visible injuries. If there are any witnesses to the accident, you should get their names and contact information as well.
Do Not Leave the Scene
Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense that can result in criminal charges. So, even if the accident is minor and there are no apparent injuries, it’s important that you stay at the scene until police arrive.
If you’re able to move your vehicle out of the way of traffic, you should do so. But never leave the scene before exchanging information with the other driver or speaking to the police. After you’ve exchanged information with the other driver and spoken to the police, the next step is to call your insurance company. You should do this even if the accident was minor and there appears to be no damage to your vehicle.
Your insurance company will likely send an adjuster to the accident scene to assess the damage. They will also want to take statements from you and the other driver involved in the accident.
It’s important to remember that car accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. If you find yourself in one, the best thing you can do is to remain calm and follow the steps outlined above. By taking quick and decisive action, you can minimize the damage and protect your legal rights. Having a lawyer present from the start can also help ensure you are fully compensated for any injuries or damages you may have incurred.