Car accidents are dangerous and frightening. Unfortunately, these are not rare given that there are over six million crashes in this country each year, according to the NHTSA. Accident planning can help keep you safe and protect your legal rights.
Do not leave the accident scene, even after a minor collision. Assure that everyone, including the other motorist and their passengers, are unhurt and seek immediate medical assistance for anyone that is injured.
If the accident was minor and you are unhurt, carefully drive your car to the roadside so that it does not block traffic. Activate your hazard lights and set up flares or reflective triangles. Do not move the vehicle if anyone suffered injuries or there was a serious collision.
Be cautious when leaving your car, especially if you are on a busy throughfare.
Report the accident to police. But police may not respond to a minor accident and request online reporting.
If the police respond, obtain the officers’ name, badge number and contact information. Ask for a copy of their report or the procedures for getting it.
Obtain the name, address, phone number, and driver’s license of everyone involved in the accident. Document the vehicles’ year, make, and model, license plate number and VIN number. Obtain the identity of the other motorists’ insurance carrier and policy numbers. Try to get the name and contact information for any witnesses.
Use your cellphone to take pictures of important documents. Photograph all vehicles in the crash and make sure you include any damage.
Record the date and time of the accident, weather, and visibility and how the accident occurred. Point out street names, the direction each car was driving and their position.
Do not argue with other drivers and passengers. Never apologize. Restrict conversations to assuring that everyone is unhurt. Never make or accept a cash offer to settle at the accident scene. If you believe the other motorist is impaired or aggressive, stay in your car and limit your contact.
Your vehicle may need towed if it was seriously damaged. Roadside assistance is usually offered through motor club memberships, insurance companies and the manufacturer. Police may also call a service. Verify the credentials of any service that arrives to assure that it is reputable.
Visit your physician after the accident if you suffer pain or unusual symptoms. Obtain that documentation. Report the accident to your insurance company. Keep all accident-related documents for your claim. Accident injuries may be serious and long-lasting. Attorneys can assist you with pursuing a lawsuit.