What to Do After a Car Accident: Dos and Don'ts
Most drivers think that car accidents only happen to other people, but the numbers don't lie. Over six million accidents occur each year in the United States, so statistically speaking, most drivers will get into at least one accident at some point. Even drivers who take every precaution to protect themselves and the passengers riding in their cars may still fall victim to other people's negligence. Instead of just hoping for the best, read on to prepare for the worst and find out what to do, and what not to do, after a car accident.
DO Call the Police
Sometimes it's obvious that the police need to be called following an accident, as when severe damage to vehicles, property, or people occurs. Many states require victims to call even after minor accidents if the damage exceeds $500. Even when that's not the case, calling the police is a good idea since officers can take reports and document what happened.
DON'T Put Off Seeking Medical Attention
Some people put off being evaluated after an accident because they don't feel like they have sustained serious injuries, but that's always a mistake. Some types of internal and soft tissue injuries don't show up until days, weeks, or even months after a crash, at which point they can be more difficult to treat. Injuries that don't receive immediate medical care may also be harder to prove in court should an accident victim wish to seek compensation.
DO Obtain Basic Information About the Other Driver(s)
Accident victims who have not been severely injured should take the time to exchange relevant information with the other driver involved. This information includes the driver's name, address, and contact number, plus his or her insurance information. It's also wise to write down the make and model of the vehicle, its license plate number, and whether it is a commercial or private vehicle.
DON'T Admit Fault
It's fine to speak with the other driver to exchange basic information and make sure that everyone is okay. However, drivers should never admit fault either to the other drivers involved or to witnesses at the scene. It could be used as an admission of guilt in court.
DO Take Photographs
Accident victims who are able to do so should take photographs of the scene. These photos can serve as evidence and can be used to show what happened. Include an overview of the accident, nearby traffic signs, photos of the vehicle's damage, and pictures of any injuries suffered as a result of the accident.
DON'T Move the Vehicle
It's important for the police to see the accident scene in its authentic state, so don't move the vehicles unless the local laws require it. In addition, it's unwise to stay in vehicles that could be hit a second time or that pose other immediate dangers. Accident victims should get out of the vehicles and move to the side of the road, but they should never leave the scene until they have been given permission to do so by the police.
How to Receive Compensation
The best way for accident victims who were injured in crashes due to another person's negligence or active malfeasance may be entitled to compensation, which is part of the reason why it's so important to document everything and resist the urge to admit fault. The best thing to do for anyone who wishes to seek compensation from the other driver's insurance company is to follow the advice offered above, seek immediate medical care, then call a lawyer to discuss the details as soon as possible.