Involved In A Minor Car Crash? Follow These Five Steps To Protect Your Interests
For many, driving seems like such a mundane activity. That is, until there's an accident. All of a sudden you're stressed, the adrenaline is pumping and you are no doubt visibly and/or physically shaken. Even if the accident appears minor, you should call the police and check for injuries. After that, be sure you follow the five following steps to protect yourself and your property.
Be Polite but Don't Apologize
Many people have a tendency to apologize at an accident scene, even if they aren't at fault. Don't do it. A simple apology can be seen as an admission of guilt and your words may be used against you if the case goes to arbitration or court. Be polite to the other parties involved but don't discuss the accident. Wait for the police to come and take statements and gather their forensic evidence. Ask for a copy of the report, since you will need it to file an insurance claim. You may get the report at the scene, but more often you'll have to wait a few days. Get the officers' names so it's easier to get your copy. In some cities, the police will give you an accident report number. This makes it simpler for you and/or your legal representative to access the information.
Take Your Own Photos
Your cell phone most likely has a camera. Use it to take photographs of all vehicles involved in the accident. If your phone has a video option, that's even better. As you video the scene, add verbal comments about the weather, traffic and road conditions. Take a wide angle shot of the scene to show the location of crosswalks, lights and traffic signage. If you notice that the roadway has issues such as deep potholes or faded traffic markings, do close ups of the problems.
Take Notes While Facts Are Fresh
Be sure and note the facts while they are fresh in your mind. Use your smart phone, tablet or lap top. As a last resort you can go the old fashioned route and use paper and pen, but electronic devices are usually easier to deal with when you are under stress. All you have to do is record voice memos and/or any relevant conversations. Remember that the other party involved may also be recording. That's why the "no apologize" tip is so important. If nothing else, get the driver's name, contact information, license number and insurance information. If the driver is confrontational, or simply doesn't want to talk, just wait for the police.
Get Medically Checked Out
Even if you've only been in a minor accident and feel fine, your best bet is to be thoroughly checked out ASAP after the accident. The paramedics at the scene may insist upon it. They may also put a cervical collar around your neck just in case you have whiplash. That is one injury that sometimes shows up hours later, or even the next day. If paramedics are on scene, it's best to follow their advice. If you refuse treatment, the other party's attorney may use that refusal to downplay any injuries that show up after the fact. This could result in a smaller settlement.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Chances are you'll call your insurance carrier before you even think of finding a personal injury lawyer. You may be hesitant to take that step, but for your own good, you should talk to an attorney from a firm like the Law Office Of Daniel E Goodman to see where things stand. You and the other party may have agreed to work things out between you. But, what if the other party changes his mind, or his insurance adjuster offers an unfair settlement? By consulting a personal injury lawyer early on in the proceedings, you have a better chance of being treated fairly.