Five Things Not to Do After a Car Accident
Summary: The unfortunate truth is that millions of accidents occur on U.S. roadways every year. In 2016, for example, there were over 13,000,000 crashes, according to National Safety Council data, ranging from minor fender benders to multi-fatality accidents. That breaks down to more than 35,000 accidents every day.
While some lucky people will never experience a car crash, those who do are often unsure of what to do when one happens. There are some definite “do’s” following an accident, such as exchanging information with other drivers and contacting your insurance company. And very importantly, there are also some things not to do after a wreck.
Here are 5 of them:
Don’t leave the scene
Leaving the scene of an accident can result in your license being suspended or driving privileges revoked. Always call 911 to summon medical assistance if anyone appears to be injured. Always report the accident to police if injuries or fatalities are involved, there is significant damage to vehicles, or the other driver appears to be under the influence, has no insurance, or flees the scene. The police report will also be an important piece of evidence should you later file a claim against the other driver.
Don’t admit fault
Don't get out of your car following an accident and admit fault to the other driver or to possible witnesses, police, or emergency responders. Don’t apologize to the other driver or passengers in that driver’s vehicle. Even if you felt you might have been at fault or partially at fault, wait until all the facts and information are in about exactly what happened. Otherwise, your words can come back to haunt you if the other driver pursues a claim against you, including potentially filing a lawsuit.
Don’t engage in lengthy conversations with the other driver
Keep conversations with the other driver calm and polite, but don’t discuss the accident or how it happened. Inquire whether everyone is alright, exchange insurance and contact information, and then wait for police to arrive to take a report. If the other driver is accusatory or angry, avoid any confrontation by walking away and waiting for police to arrive. For minor accidents where police involvement is not required, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, note the date, time, and exact location, take pictures, get contact information for any other passengers or witnesses, and go on your way.
Don’t forgo a doctor’s visit
You might feel perfectly fine after your car accident, but even in the case of a minor crash, you shouldn’t forgo a doctor’s exam. Some injuries don’t show up immediately and may cause serious health problems later on. Also, if there is a possibility that you might file a claim against another driver, or if you are being sued yourself, the treatment report from your physician will be valuable to your case.
Don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company
You are not legally required to speak with another driver’s insurance company. In most cases, if representatives from the other driver’s insurance company try to contact you, don’t speak with them. Whatever you say may be held against you later, whether it’s in the process of settling the claim through your insurance companies, or you decide to sue or are sued by the other driver. The other party’s insurance company should work through the process of settling the claim with your insurance company’s adjuster or with your attorney, if applicable.
If you have been in an accident, it may be wise to consult an attorney to review your case. If you decide to consult an attorney, be sure to do so before signing off on any settlements through your insurance company. An experienced auto accident attorney can review the facts of your case and advise you as to whether you may have a claim beyond an insurance company settlement offer.
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