Even a fender bender may rattle the most self-possessed driver. When the accident is more serious, it’s not unusual for people to forget the steps that are recommended in the aftermath. This confusion can go on for days or weeks as the injured driver copes with an altered lifestyle. Here’s a helpful reminder regarding five steps to take after you’ve been involved in an accident.
Remain at the Scene
Even if you suspect that you may be partially at fault, it’s vital that you not leave the scene. Doing so puts you at risk for a host of legal problems. Remaining on scene gives you the opportunity to check on the condition of your passengers and the people in other involved cars if you are able. Plus, state law requires that everyone involved in an accident exchange identity and insurance information.
Document Everything at the Scene
Confusion reigns at most accident scenes, but it’s critical that you keep a level head so that you can document everything. Use your cell phone to photograph your car and the other car or cars. Take general pictures of the area so that conditions are recorded. If you feel that the accident may have been at least partially caused by an obscured road sign or other treacherous conditions, photograph those as well. Speak to any witnesses at the scene, obtaining their names and contact information. This data may prove useful later.
Involve the Police
An accident may seem fairly minor at the time it happens, but some of the consequences from a collision don’t show up for hours or days afterward. It’s sensible to call 911 after every traffic accident. This way, police will document the scene and write up an official report, which may be used to help determine who was at fault in the incident. Be polite and cooperative with the police officers, but be careful not to say too much or to take responsibility for the accident. Any statements that you make may come back to haunt you later, so try not to jump to any conclusions. Once the police report is finished, which may take a few weeks, be certain to request a copy of it.
Document Medical Care and Damage Repair
The days and weeks following a serious accident may be filled with doctor appointments and trips to the garage. With severe accidents, victims may have to undergo surgery. Some patients will make a full recovery while the lives of others may be changed forever. Similarly, the car that was involved in the accident may be able to be repaired, but it may be totaled, which necessitates the purchase of a new one. It’s crucial that the driver keep documentation of all of these activities. Invoices from doctors and repair shops, as well as detailed notes regarding treatment, should be collected. All of this data will prove useful in potential litigation.
Consider Contacting a Lawyer
Insurance companies do everything they can to pay as little as possible. After an accident, many drivers discover that their own insurer and that of the other driver are reluctant to compensate them. When they do make an offer, it is common for it to not cover the expenses associated with the accident. This is why it may be helpful at this stage to enlist the help of an experienced car and truck accident attorney.
With these five steps, it’s possible to minimize the impact of an accident on your life. Use them as your guide to lead you through a challenging situation.