Things You Should Never Do After a Car AccidentRequest Free Consultation
A car accident is a traumatic experience. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you may be in significant pain and shock, but knowing what you should never do after a car accident is as important as knowing what you should do when it comes to protecting your future.
Everyone knows that they should call 911 to report their accident, give aid to others if they are able, and collect contact information and photos of the scene with their phone whenever possible, but there are several ways you can trip yourself up by saying and doing the wrong things. All too often, insurance companies seek to protect their profits instead of providing the payouts they promise when people sign up for their policies. By doing the wrong thing after an accident, you may inadvertently give insurance companies what they are looking for to minimize your claim or deny it completely.
Driving Away or Leaving the Scene of the Accident
Leaving the scene of an accident involving another vehicle or someone else’s property like a fence or mailbox is a crime. Even if you believe no one is hurt and the damage is mild, you must stop your car and call law enforcement. Call 911 to report the accident if you or anyone else is injured, or call your local non-emergency law enforcement agency to report the accident if no one is hurt but there’s property damage to either vehicle or anything else.
Avoiding Calling the Police
Even if no one is hurt and the other driver suggests that you don’t need to report the accident because their insurance will handle the damage, you seriously undermine your claim if you don’t report the accident to the police so they can check out the scene and determine fault before anyone moves their vehicle or leaves the scene. Regardless of what the other driver says or believes, their insurance company representatives will not happily write out a check to you if there is no police report of the accident.
Forgetting to Collect Contact Information
Your phone is a handy tool after an accident. After reporting the accident, use your phone to collect the contact information of the other driver(s), and of any nearby eyewitnesses to the accident. If you don’t have time or are too seriously injured to add them as contacts, you can easily use your phone’s video tool to record them giving you their name and contact information while you wait in place for help.
Forgetting to Photograph
Again, using your phone, take photos of the accident scene, the damaged vehicles, and the license plates of other involved cars. You can also photograph any contributing factors such as traffic lights, road debris, or the signs in an intersection. Snap photos of any visible injuries you have as well.
Photograph evidence can make a significant impact when you are trying to gain compensation for your damages later. If you are too seriously injured to move safely or use your phone, you can ask an uninjured person to collect photographic evidence for you by handing them your phone.
Never admit fault to the other driver, the law enforcement officers on the scene, or to bystanders and eyewitnesses. Even words like, “I never saw them coming” can be used against you later. Apologizing to the other driver about the accident is often construed as admitting fault even if you only meant that you were sorry the entire experience occurred. Instead of apologizing, you can ask them if they are okay and remain polite and civil without apologizing or admitting any fault in the accident.
Forgetting to Report the Accident to Your Own Insurance Company
Even in at-fault insurance states, you must report any accident to your own insurance company. This protects you in case the person at fault flees or does not have insurance.
Talking to the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company Without a Lawyer
Remember, insurance companies are in the business to make a profit. Even if their representatives sound concerned and compassionate on the phone, they may use your words out of context against you in order to deny your claim or lowball a settlement. Always hire an experienced San Diego car accident attorney before speaking to insurance representatives.