What You Should Do After an Automobile Accident – Today’s guest blog is by Hutzler Law, PLLC. The opinions expressed by the author in this and all guest blogs are not necessarily those of Attorney Mark E. Hall.
What You Should Do After an Automobile Accident
Car accidents are usually stressful and disorienting experiences. They happen without warning and usually lead to injuries and damage. What a driver does on the scene of an accident is very important. It is easy to panic and make poor or even illegal decisions. Whether an accident seems minor or major, it is important for a driver to keep the following steps in mind.
Remain On the Scene
This is a driver’s legal duty. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime. The last thing a driver needs to do is add criminal charges to their list of troubles. If it is safe to do so, a driver should remain near their vehicle. If it is obviously unsafe, then a driver can and should retreat a safe distance away but keep the accident in plain sight. The responding officers will understand if a driver moved away for their own safety, and that will not be considered leaving the scene.
Assess Your Injuries
Whether or not injuries were sustained to either driver is a critical part of the accident. From a personal and humanitarian perspective, each driver will want to make sure they are not seriously injured, and the other driver is not seriously injured. From a legal standpoint, injuries are a key component of all car accident insurance claims.
Injuries may also change how a driver deals with an accident and what is expected of them. If there are no or very minor injuries, then there is a standard expectation to move the affected vehicles off to the side of the road, so they do not impede other traffic.
If there are serious injuries, then calling the police should include mention of injuries so paramedics are sent and prepared.
Dealing With the Other Driver
It is normal for tensions to run high after even a minor accident. Blame may be placed quickly. Sometimes the cause of an accident is obvious, but most often there are many variables. Neither driver should assume they know exactly what happened and who is at fault.
It is important never to assume or admit responsibility or any fault for the accident verbally or otherwise. Even if a driver knows they clearly were at fault, these are matters to resolve during a lawsuit with the help of an accident attorney. Any admission of fault can seriously hurt a driver’s case in court.
Another practical requirement of accidents is to exchange basic insurance information with the other driver. Car accident lawsuits are rarely personal and are aimed almost exclusively at insurance companies. Both drivers need this insurance information in order to properly move forward with the accident claim.
Collecting Important Evidence
Evidence of damages and injuries is vital to a claim. This is especially true if a driver decides to pursue a lawsuit against the other driver’s insurance to pay for damages. Cell phone cameras are a vital tool here. Take pictures of any and all damage to the vehicle and any and all injuries that can possibly be photographed.
It may also be a good idea to take car accident photos of the other person’s vehicle. In case they begin arguing about excessive damage to their car, there is evidence to refute it. If negligence or fault is likely to be in dispute, then a driver will want to take additional pictures of the accident as a whole, including its location, nearby cross streets, and buildings or anything that might be pertinent to determining fault.
The driver can work later with their accident attorney or insurance representative to decide what is useful.
Dealing With the Authorities
In accidents that involve any injuries, police should be called to the scene. It is important to cooperate fully with responding officers and allow them to assess the accident and anyone involved. They will have questions that need to be answered fully and truthfully. The police accident reports are often vital evidence during a claim or lawsuit.
Getting legal representation from a Phoenix car accident attorney is very important for most car accidents. It is usually worthwhile to talk to an attorney before filing any claim with an insurance company. Insurance companies often suggest that a person attempt to sue the other driver for damages. A driver does not have to face a lawsuit alone and should always seek professional help for the best outcome.