Being Prepared as Possible to Deal with an Auto Accident
No one sets out to be involved in an automobile accident, but over seven million accidents occur annually. That means drivers are encouraged to prepare now in case they’re involved in an accident. There are several things drivers can do to protect themselves after an accident.
Find Out if Anyone is Injured
The very first step after an auto accident is to determine if anyone needs medical assistance. Evaluate the situation and contact first responders for help even if no injuries are apparent or they seem minor. Because adrenaline takes over during the period immediately following an accident, injuries may be masked. Never take chances. Deal with safety and health issues first after even minor accidents.
Move Damaged Vehicles Out of Traffic When Possible
The next step is to protect the safety of other drivers. When possible, move damaged vehicles off the road to prevent additional accidents. However, when vehicles are too damaged to move, the drivers and passengers are encouraged to move off the road and wait for first responders to arrive.
Contact the Local Police
If the police haven’t already been notified, now is the time to do so. Most accidents must be reported, and a police report is advantageous to have when attempting to settle an insurance claim later. In some instances, police will not respond to minor accidents but call them anyway to determine what steps to take later. Also, get the name and badge number of responding law enforcement personnel.
Collect Information from Other Drivers and Witnesses
When possible, collect data from everyone involved and witnesses. This process is simplified today, as cell phone cameras allow everyone to photograph licenses and insurance documents. Take pictures of license plates and vehicle identification numbers of the cars involved. Having more information than necessary is okay, but not having sufficient information is not, so document everything.
Take Pictures of the Scene
Now, take pictures of the scene from multiple vantage points. Pay special attention to signage, road damage, and anything else that may have played a role in the accident. Even the weather conditions are important, so ensure wet roads, glaring sunshine, and other elements are included.
Don’t Talk About the Accident with Anyone
Far too many people make statements at the scene of an accident that is used against them later. Legal experts always recommend avoiding any discussions related to responsibility for the accident. Answer basic questions from law enforcement officials, but never admit responsibility for an accident to anyone. If you’re unsure how to answer a specific question, contact an attorney for advice first.
Call the Insurance Company
While contacting the insurance company from the scene isn’t necessary, call them as soon as possible. Failure to contact the insurance company following an accident often leads to significant issues later. Again, don’t say anything to the insurance company about responsibility for an accident without talking to an attorney first.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t appear to be injured, take the time to seek medical attention following any accident. Far too often, injury symptoms don’t show up right away, so an examination is certainly called worth the time invested.
Contact an Attorney for Advice
Finally, if you haven’t contacted an attorney for advice yet, do so. Protect your rights and start the settlement process as soon as possible following an accident. That first contact is especially important if anyone is seriously injured.