Do’s and Don’ts of Car Accidents
Best Practices for when you are in a car accident
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you think your injuries are minor, or if you are not hurting at all, you should seek medical care. You won’t always feel pain right away from an injury. Seeking medical attention immediately is the most important thing you can do after an accident.
Call the Police
It is always a good idea to get a police report when you are involved in an auto accident. Don’t let the person that hit you persuade you not to call the police. A police report is your only proof of how the accident actually happened, and prevents the other party from changing their story later.
Get Witness Contact Info
Sometimes it may be necessary to get contact information from witnesses, if you are able. In some circumstances, where the other driver may be able to dispute the accident, such as denying running a stop sign or red light, having witnesses to corroborate the true story may be invaluable. Yes, people lie about these things all the time, even beyond the accident report being filed.
Call Your Insurance
You should always contact your insurance company and inform them of the accident, whether the accident was your fault or not. Just because you inform them of the accident, doesn’t mean you need to file a claim. If it was not your fault, then the other party’s insurance should cover your expenses, but your insurance needs to be informed in a timely manner, in case you ended up needing them.
Immediately take pictures of the accident scene, license plates, the other driver(s), surrounding area and of any visible bodily injuries. Pictures are still worth a thousand words, and will provide you a lot of protection. Don’t forget to pull that phone out and take some pictures. Do not allow your drivers license to be photographed.
Rest assured that the insurance company has their own best interests in mind. It is often necessary to hire an attorney to look after your interests. However, some of the worst attorneys are the biggest advertisers; don’t be another one of their prey. Read our article on choosing a good attorney, or ask us for a referral to one.
Do NOT Move Your Vehicle
You should not move your vehicles after a wreck, unless you are causing a danger to the rest of traffic by doing so. Not an inconvenience or nuisance to the other traffic, but an immediate danger. The police need the cars to remain in place to do their investigation.
Don't Discuss the Accident
Don’t discuss the accident with the other party, admit wrong doing, or apologize. It is the police’s job to determine fault, as their may have been more factors to the accident than you realize at the time. And do not disclose your insurance policy details, such as liability limits, to the other driver. You may provide your name, drivers license number, insurance company and policy number.
Don't Leave the Scene
Do not ever leave the scene of an accident, until the police say you can. Being involved in an accident is bad enough, but leaving the scene before being told you may do so by the police can garner some very serious penalties. This doesn’t just involve hit and runs. Even if you have exchanged information with the other driver, you must still wait for the police to arrive and say it is OK to leave.
If I can leave you with one last additional piece of advice, it is to make sure you have a good UIM (uninsured motorist) coverage and medical payment (medpay) coverage on your policy. Those are there to protect you from other drivers that hit you and only have minimum coverage. If you suffer lost wages, large medical bills, or any disabilities, $25,000 policy limits will not get you very far. I have seen many people lose everything, because there simply wasn’t enough coverage available on either their own policy or the at fault party to cover their loss.