Car accidents are an inevitable occurrence when driving fast, aggressively, and without considering traffic signs and lights. Of course, it can happen that you’ve been in the accident without your fault because you never know how other drivers are going to react and are responsible and aware enough.
But, when car accidents do occur and there is no going back, what are the actions that you’re legally obligated to do and what usually people do?
Inform the Authorities
The first and most important thing is to call 911 and inform police what happened, how many cars were involved, and where. This is everyone’s legal obligation and that is the information you can easily gather from your spot nevermind the nature of your involvement in the accident.
Nonetheless, many people assume that somebody else called the authorities, or that it is altogether not necessary if no one has been hurt in the accident. The truth is that you should always call 911 if being implicated in an accident because you will need a legal report for the insurance company after. Police will investigate the crash, observe road conditions, speak to witnesses, and then provide a report stating whose fault it was.
Secure the Place
Again, it is the police who will supervise moving disabled vehicles safely off the road and will direct traffic after the collision, which is helping to prevent another accident from occurring.
Still, it is expected to determine the extent of damage or injuries, and safely secure the place of the accident:
- Pull over to a safe place, but remaining as close as possible to the accident scene.
- Stop, turn off your vehicle.
- Switch on the hazard lights.
- Step out of your vehicle with a fluorescent vest.
- Make sure to inform other vehicles approaching about the accident.
Most often, people do follow these steps, but every now and then somebody leaves the collision spot and puts not only themselves in a precarious legal position, but other participants as well. Driving away from the scene without exchanging details with everyone involved or failing to stop is a federal felony, especially if the accident is fatal and there’s damage to other’s property.
First off make sure you’re not severely injured yourself or your passengers and then try and see in which state other participants are in. If not medically supported, do not try to get people out of the cars, for example, but rather help them to stay conscious and wait for the ambulance. Very rarely people offer rides to the emergency, which is done in extreme situations when ambulances are taking longer time.
It is also absolutely normal to be in a state of shock after a car accident. This shock temporarily blocks pain receptors but make sure to go to a medical examination after a shorter processing time and if any hurt is done, don’t worry, because any injuries from car crashes typically become part of your car insurance claim.
Depending on the situation, injuries, damages, or fault, many people contact their insurance company, if not straight away. With the police report and medical examination, they will have a supported claim and try to get a premium. Just remember that your insurance policy is a contract, and it states that you must not assume responsibility or liability for the accident. Even if the fault is there, it would be smart to leave legal persons to deal with it.
However, if you or some of your passengers end up with injuries that, as a surplus, require treatment, hospitalization, or surgery, it is then recommended to consult a medical professional who will accordingly document the medical state caused by the accident. Further, you will need experienced personal injury trial lawyers who will help you through the process of protecting your rights, using this documentation when filing a car accident claim. The personal injury lawyers are there to make sure you are compensated correctly for any harm done to you, your family, or your property.
Evidence and Surroundings
Getting the evidence and the facts of an accident is the part most people know they have to do but often forget due to the tension. Even before running to the injured participants, check the surroundings for dangerous hazards like gasoline leakages, sharp objects, or exposed electrical wires. If the accident occurred during the night, make sure to give appropriate lighting signs and lighten the scene, with your car lights or hazard ones.
Writing down names, license plates, home and email addresses, phone numbers, insurance companies, and policy numbers, and registration numbers may seem insensitive after a car accident, but this is crucial for the insurance premium or filing a personal injury claim later.
When the police arrive and start to collect facts and details about the accident, make sure to be as helpful, clear, and precise. Avoid unnecessary information of personal nature, distractions (how amazed you were with Boathouse row, for example), or about your socioeconomic status.
A police accident report is such an imperative that without it, you may be completely denied insurance premium by the at-fault party.
Therefore, be cooperative and do not leave the accident’s place
Make a File
This step is a smart move that many people do and that is extremely helpful to the insurance and injury lawyers – after the accident and collecting the necessary data from other participants, they make a file or a log with a description of everything they remember about the crash, what was the time of day, weather, road conditions, location, the position of cars involved.
This file can also be supported with photos from the car accident’s spot which will be used as pieces of evidence. Ensure that there are crucial points on these pictures – angles, damages, rad hazards, skid marks. Just in case, take pictures of another vehicle’s license plate and the driver’s license, registration, and insurance documents to reinforce your file. The human memory tends to forget and twist, and this way, you make it fresh and matter-of-factly.
Usually, people make three phone calls after the car accident and in this order – authorities, insurance agents, and personal injuries’ attorneys.
Car accidents happen and, again, it’s just a matter of moment, but it is important to know what you’re supposed to do if in-state to help and collect information, what questions you may need to carefully answer, and what things to pay attention to (like not signing any documents unless they’re for the police or insurance agent).
And always remember, you have the power and the right to take legal action.