Time seems to slow down when you have a car accident. The seconds stretch out as the collision occurs. You get jarred in your seat as the adrenaline really starts to kick in. Maybe you jump out to inspect the damage. Maybe you run to the other car to check on the occupants or to yell at them for the accident. You don’t know what you’ll do. You are running on instinct.
However, when you run on instinct, you aren’t always thinking ahead. As a result, you might make mistakes at the crash site that cost you legally and financially later. To ensure you make the best of a terrible situation, here are a few legal tips you should use after a car accident.
Stay at the Scene
If you have a collision with another vehicle, never leave the scene. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you will still violate hit and run laws if you don’t stay (Source: Cohen Placitella Roth, PC.). However, if the damage to your vehicles aren’t critical, talk to the other driver about driving the cars to a safer location. To make sure the other person doesn’t flee either, take a picture of the car’s license plate immediately.
Call the Police
You should always call 911 if you have a car accident that results in injuries or property damage, even if those damages or injuries are minor. Police officers can calmly assess the scene and impartially assess fault. In addition, police have training to assess injuries, which can save lives and also decide a legal case.
Don’t Admit Fault
Never say you are sorry. You may know the accident is your fault. Or you could want to show sympathy for the other driver’s situation. However, if you apologize for anything related to the accident, it counts as admitting fault for the accident. As a result, you could be held liable for the property damage, emotional trauma, and physical injuries of the other party.
You want as much evidence as possible to document your side of the accident. Take as many photos as possible of the damage, the position of the cars, and any injuries. Talk with witnesses and record their statements. Don’t forget to write down you own perspective. While police officers will also collect information, it’s best to have your own record as well.
Exchange Insurance Information
While you document the scene, give your contact and insurance information to the other party. Make sure you have all necessary information as well. If the person driving doesn’t hold the insurance policy or doesn’t own the car, make sure you get the name of the owner too.
When you have these general steps memorized, you can respond to a car accident without further legal issues. However, if you do anticipate legal problems, talk to a lawyer.
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 four-year-old husky Snowball.