Even minor fender-benders can be incredibly stressful experiences. Not only are you disoriented and possibly physically hurt, but suddenly you've got a whole host of financial issues to worry about.
- How are you going to pay for repairs?
- Will your insurance cover it, or are you going to have to dig into your own pocket?
- What about getting back and forth to work while your car's in the shop?
This combination of disorientation and stress can cause people to make mistakes in how they handle themselves at the scene of an accident. That's only natural - but the problem is that how we handle ourselves at the scene often dictates what happens to us after the accident. Saying or doing the wrong thing can have unforeseen and potentially serious legal consequences.
Nevertheless, there a few things you can do to make sure your post-accident experience goes as smoothly as possible. Just try to keep your wits about you and follow these easy steps:
- First, check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Always do this before you do anything else. Your health and physical well-being are paramount.
- Remember, some injuries might not be evident until after the accident. You're probably pumped full of adrenaline as a result of the accident, and that can help mask any injury symptoms. If there is ANY doubt at all as to whether you or one of your passengers has sustained an injury, you should always err on the side of caution and call an ambulance.
- Call your insurance company. They need to know what's happened, and depending on the terms of your policy, they may dispatch an agent to the scene.
- If it's still moveable, clear your car from the road. If you can't move your car without causing more damage, or if just isn't drivable as a result of the accident, just leave it where it is and hire a tow truck to move it (you can often get your insurance company to take care of this).
- Turn on your vehicle's hazard lights and move out of the path of oncoming traffic.
- Take pictures. If you've got a mobile phone, you probably have a camera. Do your best to get a few shots of the scene of the accident, preferably before you move your car to the side of the road. This will make things easier for your insurance company and for accident scene investigators.
- If there are any witnesses, try to get their names and contact information.
- NEVER ADMIT FAULT, even if you're only saying "I'm sorry." It's probably best if you don't talk to the other driver except to make sure they're OK and to get their insurance information. You'd be surprised at how easily your own words can be turned against you in court - so don't give them any ammunition. And NEVER sign anything, unless it's for the police or for your OWN insurance agent.
Even if you don't think it's necessary, it's always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor in the days following a car accident. They're trained to spot problems that we might not be aware of until some time after the event.
Don't let an auto accident turn your world upside-down. If you need legal representation as a result of a car accident, contact the Andriotis Law Firm today.