Unfortunately, car accidents are a fact of life. While safety is always the number one concern when driving, knowing your legal rights and responsibilities is also critically important.
Did you know that it is illegal to drive away from an accident even if there is only minor damage? It is imperative that you stop, protect yourself with vehicle lights, flashers or other means, and contact the police, or 911 if someone is injured. In most cases, a police report is required to file a claim with an insurance company.
When the police arrive, tell the investigating officer the facts to the best of your ability. Do not lie, do not speculate, and do not talk too much. Try not to admit fault, either. Keep in mind that pain and injuries can surface hours or days after a motor vehicle accident so if you are not sure if you are injured then say you are unsure. Do not make the mistake of saying “no” in the moment.
Next, try to determine the extent of the damage. Use your cell phone camera, if possible, to document vehicle damage, injuries, and the accident scene. Take pictures or video as soon as possible, but without interfering with police work. It is also important to exchange information with other involved parties when applicable, including names, addresses, and contact information of drivers, passengers, and witnesses. You should also obtain auto insurance information of other drivers and get the police report number to the incident.
You may also need to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Many policies require immediate reporting and full cooperation. Unless you are absolutely certain that you are not injured, then consider seeking medical attention. Back and neck injuries, and potential concussions can result from even minor collisions, as well as from more significant impacts. Do not underestimate the health effects of a car accident.
Finally, keep accurate, organized records and do not wait to contact an experienced attorney. An attorney specializing in auto accidents can provide guidance about your rights and help make sure you are compensated in the event that you are wrongfully injured. We know you may have questions and encourage you not wait to schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our legal team.