If you have been involved in an accident, it can be incredibly overwhelming. While you may feel scared, panicked, and confused, it is very important to follow certain steps to ensure you are preserving your legal rights after the accident. In the moments following your accident, your mind can feel scattered, often causing victims to make mistakes that will be detrimental to the legal process that is to follow. Here are some steps to take and things to remember after an accident, to make sure that you will be covered and will make your life easier following an accident.
- Do Not Leave the Scene or Move your Vehicle Until Police Arrive
This is an important step that many people don’t follow. Especially in the event of smaller accidents, people often will move their cars to the side of the road to make calls and exchange information. While this may seem like the kind thing to do to allow other vehicles to pass, it can get in the way of determining which vehicle was at fault during the accident.
After an accident that has significant damage, it is best to leave your vehicle as-is, call the authorities, and wait for them before moving anything on the scene.
- Contacting the Authorities
While you may think the accident is not large enough to justify calling the police, many jurisdictions require police involvement if damages are more than $1000.00. So even if it seems to be only your bumper, or your airbags didn’t deploy, no fluids are leaking, etc. It is still important to get an accurate and detailed accident report if the damages seem like they will be over this amount.
Car repairs are not cheap, and if your bumper is hanging off, or you are leaking fluids, that is a sure sign that the damage is going to be extensive to repair. It is always a good idea to contact the police and have them present at the scene to complete their report, this will ensure all legal procedures have been followed. While your jurisdiction may have different laws and regulations, you can always call and get their advice before moving the vehicles or leaving the scene.
- Contact a Lawyer
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your accident, and especially if you have incurred physical injuries, contacting a lawyer can be the best step to take. They will provide you with advice and advocacy regarding an accident. To understand what a lawyer will do you can refer to this useful guide regarding vehicle accidents. The legalities surrounding accidents, who is at fault, and what to do next can be confusing, so ensuring that you contact someone with extensive knowledge can ensure you are following all the necessary steps.
- Take Pictures Galore
Photo evidence of the accident scene is incredibly important, and you need to take these photos before moving your vehicles. Taking pictures of the surrounding area, any traffic lights and right-of-way signs, etc. can also help you, especially in a case where you will need to collect damages from the other party. These photos will help determine what happened, why, and which driver was at fault.
Get photo documentation of everything, it is better to have too many pictures than to not have any, which can lead to a “he said she” said scenario.
- Exchange Information
Exchanging contact and license information with the other driver is crucial. If they refuse to provide this, make sure you get the make, model, and license plate number of the other vehicle. If they leave the scene, contact authorities immediately with whatever information you are able to get. Knowing who hit you will make the process a lot easier when seeking damages after.
If the driver remains at the scene (as they should) get their contact information, name, license information, and insurance information. Having this available will make it a lot easier to fill out the required reports and statements for both authorities and when you are completing your insurance claim. The more information you can get, the better off you will be in the long run.
Accidents are scary and frustrating, but they don’t have to be. If you follow these steps and try to remain level-headed after an accident, you can preserve your legal rights and make sure that you are doing everything you need to ensure as positive an outcome for yourself as possible. Don’t allow panic and adrenaline to take control, remain calm and clear-headed and everything will be fine.