Around 6 million car accidents occur each year in the United States. That’s over 16,000 accidents happening every single day!
Odds are, you are going to get into a car accident at some point in your driving history. Regardless of whether the car accident was your fault or serious, there are certain steps you should take.
Are you prepared if you find yourself involved in a traffic accident? Keep reading to learn how to stay on top of traffic accident law with the top dos and don’ts.
1. Do Contact the Police
One of the very first things you should do after an accident occurs is contacting the police. If someone is hurt or the vehicles are blocking traffic, call 911. If the injury is minor and everyone is okay you can contact your local department’s non-emergency number.
When you contact dispatch, they’ll send a police officer along with an ambulance and possibly fire trucks.
The police officer will work on gathering information to create the accident report. At the same time, the EMS employees will make sure no one is hurt. Firefighters often help direct traffic and clear debris from the roadway.
At the very least, you always need an officer to arrive after a car accident. Without a police report, your accident doesn’t exist for car insurance companies.
2. Do Take Evidence of the Accident
While the police officer will gather basic evidence for their report, you should also attempt to gather your own evidence.
The major items to gather include:
- Photos from all angles of both vehicles
- Name and contact information of other drivers involved
- Name and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident
- The badge number of the officer filing the police report
- Your own detailed narrative of how the accident occurred
If you are hurt in the accident, leave this job to someone else. Ask an unhurt passenger or witness to gather a few things for you.
3. Do Consult a Traffic Accident Lawyer
If your accident involves injuries or extensive damage, it’s always a good idea to consult a car accident lawyer.
An experienced attorney will represent you along every step of the accident process, so the sooner you contact them, the better. They are well-versed in traffic accident law and know exactly what you’re entitled to, regardless of whether you’re at fault.
They can help you communicate with the car insurance providers to ensure you’re properly compensated. If you have trouble getting compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, or even repair expenses, they can also help by filing a lawsuit.
4. Don’t Admit Fault
Now let’s talk about things you should never do after an accident. One of the worst things you could do is to admit fault.
This doesn’t mean you should lie to an officer about what happened. Instead, provide an honest and thorough explanation of what happened, while leaving out whose fault you think the accident is. Because once you admit fault, car insurance providers will use this against you when it comes to compensation.
Based on the scene, the officer can determine who they think caused the accident and include this in the report. But, this is much easier for your attorney to work around than if the report says you admitted to causing the accident.
5. Don’t Ignore Medical Attention
If you think yourself or someone else in your vehicle may be injured, don’t ignore medical attention. Even the smallest of injuries could turn into something more serious if they are ignored, and denying medical attention at the scene can affect your compensation.
Seek help as soon as you’re aware of an injury. Sometimes, injuries don’t present themselves for several hours or days — that’s okay. As long as you visit a doctor or the hospital once symptoms occur, you should be covered.
Then, make sure you keep up with any medical instructions given to you. Follow through with all appointments and keep a record of everything injury related to your accident.
6. Don’t Discuss the Accident
After you get into a car accident, all your family members and friends will want to make sure you’re okay. They’ll all be contacting you and asking about the accident’s details. Don’t discuss the accident with anyone else besides your lawyer!
If your accident case reaches the lawsuit stage, anyone you discuss the accident with can be called as a witness. So if you told your mom you were okay and the accident was minor to calm her worries, this could hurt you later on.
We don’t want you to hide the fact that you were in an accident or injured, but just make sure you are only telling people the main facts. Admit that you were in an accident and are receiving medical attention. Don’t tell them about how you think the accident occurred or how you’re feeling mentally or physically.
7. Don’t Enter an Unfair Settlement Agreement
Often times after an accident occurs, the car insurance provider will offer you a settlement agreement. They may even urge you to take this agreement by making it seem like it’s a good deal or any alternative would take a long time.
Never enter into a settlement agreement until you discuss it with your lawyer. These initial agreements are often unfair and will hurt your chances of proper compensation.
Together, your attorney and the car insurance company can work towards a fair agreement. If one is not reached, then you can consider if a lawsuit is right for your accident.
Seek Help with Traffic Accident Law
These dos and don’ts are just a small portion of traffic accident law.
Each vehicle accident is different, which means that different laws apply. The situation changes when you’re dealing with injuries, a driver with no insurance, or intoxicated driving. Never assume you know what the law is and always seek help from a qualified attorney.
For more advice on specific types of vehicle accidents, head over to our blog to learn more.