If you have been a driver for a long time and have not been involved in a car accident, count yourself lucky. Small accidents happen every day and are typically easy to deal with, no matter who is at fault.
However, for those who have never been in any sort of accident, the experience is scary and overwhelming. Here are some things you need to know if you ever get into a car accident, no matter how big or small.
How to React After an Accident
First, get yourself to a safe position. Do not stand with your vehicle in the middle of a busy highway. If your vehicle is drivable, get over to the side of the road and out of the line of traffic.
Next, check yourself and the other party for obvious injuries. If you are ambulatory but the other person is not, stay with him or her until help arrives. Call the police at this time to notify them of the accident.
No matter how serious the accident make sure to call the police and request that a report is filed. This will be valuable in establishing who is at fault. Always insist on calling the authorities.
If you are safe and there are no serious injuries to you or the other driver, take a few moments to take pictures with your cell phone. Pictures will be a crucial part of your evidence for any future claims you will have.
Here are some examples of items to photograph after your accident:
- The accident scene, including street lights and signs and any weather
- The license plates of all the vehicles involved in the accident
- The damage to each vehicle
- The debris left on the ground
- Any tire markings left on the asphalt
- The other driver will likely want to take photographs as well, which is fine. However, do not offer up your driver’s license and registration for the other driver to photograph. You should not give this information to the other person at all. You only need to provide that information to the police.
- When someone is injured
- If the damage to property exceeds a certain dollar amount (determined by the state)
- If one or more parties is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
What to Do If the Other Party Doesn’t Want to Report the Accident
For one reason or another, the other person in the accident may not want to call law enforcement and have a report filed. This may happen when it appears the accident wasn’t that “bad”. Perhaps the other driver doesn’t want the accident on his or her insurance. Maybe they have a suspended driver’s license and want to avoid getting in trouble.
There are certain situations in which state law requires the police respond to an accident. Police must be called in some situations:
It is always within your right to call the police to the scene of an accident no matter how minor it may seem. What looks like minor damage may run into thousands of dollars and it is strongly advised to always have the police review the accident and file a report. If the other person involved was impaired the authorities are in a better situation to determine if that was the case.
Keep in mind you will not have much in the way of legal recourse if you opt not to call the police after an accident. While you can exchange information to settle the damage, who is to say you have the correct contact information?
Another thing you need to think about is the potential for injuries. Although you may not feel any pain immediately after an accident, chances are you are going to be sore a few hours later. You could even have whiplash or other soft muscle damage. That means you will have medical expenses you will have to pay yourself.
If the accident was not your fault, and if you had reported the accident, the other driver’s insurance would have paid for your medical treatment.
If you need help with your car accident claim, please contact us at Garrison Law Firm today.