What to do after a Car Accident that is your fault?
You looked at your phone for a second or changed the radio station or one of a hundred other small distractions and you collided with another car. You immediately think the accident was your fault. You’re scared and possible injured. What do you do know?
At Fault Car Accident
Being in a car accident is scary in any situation; however, when the collision is your fault, most people are afraid of the aftermath. The following are common sense steps to take after any car accident that may protect your future and your finances.
When you are at fault for a car accident it exposes you to the potential for a lawsuit or exposure with your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company. The second half of this post discusses things you should never do, if you may be at fault for a car accident.
Steps to take after a Car Accident
Life is full of distractions and driving down the road does not make you immune to this fact. No matter how careful a driver you are; you will be distracted at some point on the road, if it is the wrong moment you may cause a car accident. Remembering these steps will protect your interested and your rights following a car accident:
- Make sure everyone is safe: the first step after any car accident is to ensure everyone involved is safe. Call for an ambulance, if you or anyone else is serious injured or you are uncertain of the severity of anyone’s injuries after your car accident. Emergency responders or EMTs are better able to diagnosis car accident injuries and will protect car accident injury victims from unnecessarily inflaming injuries and can determine, if a trip to the hospital is necessary.
- Call the police: car accidents can be highly emotional and often times it is difficult to remember these steps or to properly document the scene, drivers, insurance, and who was involved or at-fault. Therefore, having a third party that is uninterested, a police officer, create a car accident report or traffic collision report is very important. You must ask for a collision report or car accident report in Oklahoma or the officers may not draft one.
- Exchange insurance information: you should exchange names, phone numbers, email addresses, and insurance information with every driver involved in the car accident. If the other party is willing, you should take a photograph of each driver’s insurance card and driver’s license. Another benefit of an accident report, is the officer will collect the insurance information for every driver at the scene and it will be contained in their report.
- Take photos: if you have a smart phone then you have a high-resolution camera in your pocket at all times. You should take photos of the damage to your vehicle and any other vehicle involved in the accident. Additionally, you should take photos of the accident scene: road conditions, lighting, and anything else that may have played a role in the accident.
- Get off the road: if the accident is minor, you should move your car out of traffic, after you have taken photograph of the damage and accident scene.
- Speak to witnesses: if they are willing to speak to you, collect statements or comments from those present at the scene. This is a double-edged sword though; you should not give details about what you were or were not doing that led to the accident. Statements you make at the scene will likely be used against you in the insurance or personal injury process.
- Accident journal: once you are safe and have calmed down after the accident, you should journal the accident, write down all the details you recall from the car accident. Some of the most important things to write down include: admissions or statements by other drivers, road conditions, lighting, weather conditions, what you were doing when the impact took place, and what damage your vehicle and other vehicles received.
- File a report: if the police refuse to come to the scene or you forget to call, you should file a police report or car accident report as soon as possible.
- Call your insurance company: you must report all accidents to your insurance carrier, regardless of whether you are the at-fault driver or not the at-fault driver. Some insurance carriers will increase your rates or may even cancel your policy for failing to report an accident.
- Contact a car accident attorney: during a car accident consult, an experienced personal injury attorney or car accident lawyer can advise you on the likely outcomes of your accident, assist you in knowing how to respond to inquiries from insurance adjusters, and what the process will look like, if a car accident lawsuit is filed against you. You may never face personal injury litigation; however, it is best to be prepared than to be surprised.
Things to Avoid after a Car Accident
The following is a list of things you should never do after a car accident. Many of these are natural responses to being in a car accident or simply human nature. However, your exposure to a car accident lawsuit and your future with your insurance company may be negatively impacted, if you ignore the following advice:
- Don’t get angry: as stated above, emotions always run high after a car accident. Whether your upset about your actions or the actions of another driver, it is important to remain calm and to not get aggressive.
- Don’t admit fault: this may sound strange, but do not say you caused the accident or apologize, even if you think you caused the accident or were at fault for the accident. Determining the at-fault driver for a car accident is a complex process and an admission at the scene will negatively impact insurance and defending a car accident case, if one is filed. This is the hardest piece of advice to follow; however, do not admit fault at the scene of a car accident, even if you are the at-fault driver.
- Don’t discuss the accident: you should not discuss the details of your car accident with the other party to the wreck. You can listen, if the other party makes statements or admissions, but you should never reciprocate. You should not discuss the accident with the other party’s insurance company and you should not discuss the case with the other party’s car accident lawyer. You need to be honest with the police; however, do not provide information that is not specifically requested from the officer drafting the collision report. You should be honest with your insurance company about the details of the wreck; however, it is wise to speak to a car accident attorney before discuss details with anyone.
- Don’t negotiate: car accident scenes are highly emotional and it is not the time to be discussing plans to fix your vehicle or the other party’s vehicle. You should not sign any statements at the car accident scene and you should never promise to pay for the damage at the car wreck scene. Let your insurance company and your car accident lawyer, if you retain one, do their job. Damage calculations and at-fault determination are complex. You do not have the information necessary to make these determinations at the scene and emotionally you are not ready to discuss damages in a car wreck.
- Don’t leave the scene too soon: wait for the police and other driver to leave the scene before you depart. You do not want to leave the wreck and be unable to defend a claim of additional damage or impact from the accident by the other driver.
Call a Car Accident Attorney, if you caused an Accident
You can see that causing a car accident can have serious consequences. Personal injuries, medical bills, ambulance rides, and vehicle repairs can amount to thousands of dollars. The other driver can come after you, if your insurance is insufficient to cover the damage. You need a fierce advocate to defend your car accident and assist you in dealing with the car insurance companies.
Contact an experienced attorney - Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Fierce Advocates for Personal Injury
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