Posted on January 13th, 2014 by Zane Cagle
Unless you never ride in or drive a car, statistically, you will be in at least one auto accident in your life. It sounds less than optimistic, I know. “Once” is a conservative number considering that most of us have at least been in some kind of small fender benders. You may consider yourself a very cautious, safe driver and yet, that may not save you from the person careening through a red light and into your car because they were not paying attention or trying to send a text to a friend!
I blog frequently about safe driving habits and my goal is to raise awareness about the particular behaviors that increase the likelihood of you being in a car accident such as drinking and driving or texting. Ultimately, most accidents are caused by inattentiveness whether it is through lack of attention, too close following distance or distraction such as phone use. I recently read an article, Five Things You Should NOT Do After a Car Accident, but, in reality there are Six things everyone should AVOID doing following a car accident.
Here are Six things you Should NOT do following a car accident:
Leave the Scene of the Accident:
Even if the damage seems minor and you exchanged insurance information with the other party, you MUST report the accident to law enforcement or you may be committing a crime. Yes, you might be in a hurry and it may seem silly to stop and call the authorities, but many things can go wrong. For one, the other party or yourself may notice injuries later in the day or muscle tightness or soreness that may be an actual injury. Failure to document the accident could result in your insurance company failing to pay on your claim. Or worse yet, you may be injured and the other person’s insurance denies your claim because the accident was not reported. There are many tempting reasons to leave a scene, such as not having insurance, failing to have your car registered or simply because you have many things to do and the fender bender seems small. Reporting the accident to authorities and dealing with the repercussions is generally much easier than trying to negotiate a claim on an unreported accident–plus, you do not need charges of leaving a scene to complicate your life. Plus, doing due diligence and sticking around after an accident to be sure that no one is hurt is just the right thing to do—you would want others to do the same for you.
Fail to Call 911
Many believe if there are not injuries, then calling 911 is unnecessary– not true. Maybe you make a “gentleman’s agreement” with the other driver to let the insurance companies work it out. Did you know that 1 in 7 people do not have insurance and may carry around false insurance information? How do you know the other person’s insurance is real? Active? or up to date? If you get into a wreck with someone who has no insurance, then you are the one left holding the bag so to speak. If you do not get a police officer to document the accident, then what proof do you have that it actually occurred? In some areas, officers do not report to the scene unless there is an accident, however, you have the opportunity to make an accident report and you should do this
Lose Your Cool
After an accident, emotions run high. Car accidents are terrifying, irritating and never, never pleasant. Even if the accident is the other driver’s fault, losing your temper and your composure just complicates the issue. While this may seem like common sense, your first question to the other driver should always be, “Are you alright?” Take some deep breaths and try to stay calm. You need a level head to assess damage and make good decisions and document after a car accident.
Tell the Other Party It was Your Fault
Never tell the other party that it was your fault as this is admitting liability which could expose you to penalties and lawsuit. You may not know all of the factors and choices the other drivers made that may have contributed to the accident. Thus, apologizing and admissions before gathering all information is not protecting yourself
Forget Proper Documentation
So you’ve stayed at the scene, called 911 and kept your cool, what else should you do? Do not forget to properly document the accident and confirm the other drivers’ contact information and insurance information including the other driver’s license number (car and driver’s license) as well as make/model of the car as well as the color. Write all of this information down or use our handy “Injury Attorney” application for iPhone or Droid. Other extremely helpful piece of documentation is photographs. Most of us have smart phones and you should take photos of the cars at the scene and the accident scene. These photos will come in very handy during the claims process. You will need to accurately describe the accident and may find yourself retelling it numerous times to officers
Neglect the Aftermath
While the accident seems traumatic enough, the aftermath often will include medical and/or legal advice. If you have pain or persistent health problems since the accident, you will need to see a doctor right away. You may also need to consult an attorney if you’re facing big medical bills. Or if the other driver is claiming the accident is your fault, you will probably need to find a lawyer of your own. Make sure you register your accident with your insurance company right away. It is best to know what your insurance covers right away so you don’t find out that you’re paying for a rental car out of pocket. It helps to know if your state law assigns “fault” to one of the involved drivers. And remember, you have the right to send your car to any repair shop of your choosing. Don’t be afraid to stay on top of insurance companies, however, it is extremely helpful to contact an attorney before giving any statements to any insurance company.
Everyone wants their car accident to be resolved quickly and often we think if we do not report it, then it will just “go away”. If you do not report and document the accident, then you may be actually dealing with the fall out of the accident for many, many months. If you discover you are injured, then talking with a personal injury lawyer early on in the process is just smart. Finding out your options and best way to maneuver through the insurance machine is helpful at the beginning rather than months after the accident.
So, practice safe driving and work to avoid an accident. However, while we always hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst and that includes being informed, having a plan should an accident occur and careful follow through after an accident. At our firm, we know car accidents are just an unfortunate thing that happen in life. Sometimes, car accidents can be life changing, meaning an injury can occur in the most minor of accidents and that injury may persist for many months or years. Treating your injury quickly can often make the difference in the severity and length of your rehabilitation.
Our attorneys are available seven days a week to answer your questions and help you evaluate your particular accident situation. We offer the InjuryAttorney application for your iPhone or Droid so that when/if you are in an accident, you will know what actions to take to better process your claim in a quick and timely way. Call 1(314) 276-1681 or locally (314) 276-1681 for your free consultation.