Accidents happen, especially out on the road. Just about everyone who drives a car or who rides as a passenger will be involved in a collision at some point in their lives. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of automobile accidents are relatively minor “fender benders.” Regardless of the extent of the damage, it’s important to keep a cool head and stick to a memorized step-by-step process as best you can. Not sure what to do when the time comes?
Here are the basics of getting through an auto accident:
Move out of the way if the collision is non-serious. This reduces the likelihood of a pile-up and being dangerously close to moving cars. Snap a few photos with your phone if you believe the original position of the cars post-collision will be important information later. However, do not under any circumstances risk being struck by traffic trying to play crime scene photographer. Put on the emergency flashers and move to the shoulder or a parking lot if one is within a block of the scene of the accident. Then call the police – always call the police. Statements taken by law enforcement and their report will be integral to getting the claims handled properly.
If hurt, get a lawyer. Schedule a consultation with an accident attorney who specializes in auto accidents or personal injury. The sooner the better in terms of making sure to get the compensation deserved. Insurance companies want to close the claim as soon as possible and pay out as little as possible. This can come back to haunt those who may experience delayed and prolonged pain from the impact. Typically, law firms will go over the details as a courtesy to see if there are any weak points in the settlement offer – and there almost always are.
Pay attention. Write down or make a mental note of the circumstances. Again, only take photos if you believe it necessary and safe to do so. The goal is to make sure your mind does not end up with holes in the timeline. Insurance companies will be happy to fill these blanks for you in whichever way suits their interests, usually not to your benefit. Furthermore, the other party may report an alternative version of events in which case you want to be able to tell yourself (and consequently claims investigators) that you’re certain of what you know occurred.
Never admit fault. Even if you know 100% that you were distracted or otherwise to blame for a collision, it’s always a good idea to avoid saying so overtly to anybody. It’s not dishonesty, but rather your legal right to guard against admitting guilt. Admitting liability tips the balance greatly in the favor of the other party in the event they file a lawsuit. Additionally, there may have been other factors at play which contributed to the collision that you were not aware of at the time or afterward. Allow investigators to come to their own conclusions.
Prevention is the best medicine. Reducing the likelihood of being involved in a minor or serious car accident starts with being a responsible driver. Never let your tires get worn down to the point where braking is affected. Be alert at all times, even when the kids are acting like fools in the backseat. Anyone with enough hours clocked behind the wheel can recall a time or two when their quick reaction to someone else’s reckless driving prevented disaster. This demonstrates how being a responsible driver means being prepared for irresponsible people out on the road.
Virtually everyone, given enough time spent in moving vehicles over the years, will be involved in an accident. Luckily, they’re far more likely than not be able to walk away without any devastating long-term effects. As a precaution, it’s important to always know what to do in the event you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident. However, the best method for handling auto accidents is to do everything on your end to reduce the risk of them happening in the first place. As inevitable as collisions may seem, miracles do happen every once in awhile.