What To Do After A Car Accident?

Monday, October 21, 2013

When you’ve been in or caused an accident, you’re probably not thinking clearly, and you’re scared. It’s ok, just stay calm.

If you are still moving, come to a complete stop in a safe place away from traffic, people and danger.

It does not matter whether it involves a vehicle (still or moving), someone on foot, or someone’s property, you are required by law to stop. The law states that if you leave the scene of an accident, you can be liable for charges of hit and run. It doesn’t even have to be your fault! What if you have run into a parked car at the mall? The law expects you to attempt to find that car’s owner. Once you have tried and failed, THEN you are allowed to leave only after you have left your name, address, insurance info along with an explanation of the accident. Of course, the police should be notified at once.

How can you find help?

Immediately call 911. Tell them the situation and where you are. Be sure and tell them if an ambulance or fire truck is needed. Most everyone has a cell phone, but if you do not, then flag down another motorist or bystander. Of course all accidents do not happen on busy local streets. Some happen out in the middle of nowhere, usually after dark, where cell phone use could be scarce. If this happens to you, try to get to the nearest place of business or nearby residence to call police.

I am here at the accident scene – now what?

There are some questions that you need to ask; some important information that needs to be exchanged.

  • Think about what info is usually on accident reports. This is the info you will need in case you go to court (as well as for your insurance company). Be sure to write down names, addresses, insurance company info, phone numbers, birthdates.
  • You will need to exchange drivers license numbers and its expiration date.
  • You will need a description of the vehicles involved – make, model, color, VIN number.
  • Make sure that the other vehicle is owned by the other driver. (It could be a rental or a loaner – or stolen.)
  • Are there any passengers in the vehicles? Get their information also and any witnesses to the accident.
  • If someone must leave the scene, make sure you get their statement in writing.
  • Every now and then, there will be someone who does not want to give you their information. If this happens, just write down the license number and description of the car. The police can do a trace.
  • Do your best to make a diagram of the accident and how it happened. Check for skid marks and note how the vehicles ended up from where they started if possible.
  • Most people these days have camera phones. If so, try to take pictures of what you see.
  • Was it raining, was there fog, was there stop lights or stop signs?
  • Don’t forget to write down the time of the accident and your speed at the time. How fast was the other vehicle going?

Whose fault was it?

Do not let your emotions take over. Tell the police what is relevant and stay focused. Listen to what the other driver is saying to the police. Make notes if you have to. The police have the final decision as who is at fault.

Be prepared – you may get a ticket.

Then what?

Do not argue with the authorities. Just sign the ticket. Then appear in court and state your case. If you refuse to sign it, you are asking for trouble – you could go to jail. You have hired a great attorney – use those services. It is best to consult him/her before pleading guilty on the scene or in court.

A few more things you will need to do:

  1. As soon as possible, you will need to notify your insurance company.
  2. In a few days, you can get a copy of the accident report from your police station.
  3. Check to see if your state has no fault insurance.
  4. You may need to check with your doctor just to be on the safe side, even if you don’t feel like you are injured. Some injuries do not show up right away.

Lastly, it is always stressful when you have an accident or one of your loved ones is in a vehicle crash. Keep a level head and stay calm. Help is on the way!

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