If you’re involved in an auto accident, your injuries or another person’s injuries may or may not be severe. However, one thing you can count on is that emotions will run high. It’s important that you remain calm and remember there are critical things you must do after the accident, if possible. The following advice could prevent legal ramifications from surfacing later.
- Don’t leave the accident scene. Never leave the scene of an accident until it’s appropriate to do so. If someone was killed or badly injured, you could face legal action and be charged as a hit-and-run driver. Don’t apologize for being at fault. Such an apology can be used against you at a later date. Don’t discuss the accident with anyone but your lawyer.
- Check the status of all passengers and drivers. Do this even before assessing any property damage. Anyone needing medical attention should receive it immediately. Be careful not to handle anyone with severe back or neck pains, unless there’s a hazard that requires moving that individual. Take pictures.
- Notify the police if they’re not already on the scene. Where significant property damage, physical injury, or death occurs, law enforcement needs to be present. Obtain the names and badge numbers of any law enforcement officers on the scene. You may need that information later for legal purposes.
- Exchange information with others at the accident scene. Remember that emotions may be running high, and it may be difficult to complete this step depending on the seriousness of the accident. Names, numbers, addresses, license plate numbers and drivers’ license numbers is the information you’ll need to collect. Be as cordial and cooperative as possible while making sure you don’t place yourself in harm’s way.
- Talk to witnesses. If witnesses at the scene are able and willing to talk, get their names, numbers and addresses. (Source: Thomas A. Corletta).
- Inform your insurance company immediately. Tell them the truth about what happened and inform them of any injuries. Never lie. A lie can always come back to haunt you and cause your insurance carrier to pursue legal action against you.
- Keep good records. Keep solid records of what happened at the accident scene and records of any medical treatment.
Keep the ideas listed above in mind should you ever be in this situation. The law is complex, and it’s best to consult with an experienced attorney who can help maximize a recovery or defend you for the best possible outcome if you’re at fault.
This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her three-year-old husky Snowball.