Abstain from drinking and driving? Look twice for motorcycles? Drive within posted speed limits? Ignore text messages when on the road? If you answer “yes” to these driving safety questions, you are well on your way to making the road a less dangerous place for yourself and those you share it with.
Unfortunately, not all of us can truthfully say that they follow the strict standards listed above. We all know that actions like drinking and driving, speeding and distracted driving can all have deadly results, yet so many car accidents involving those examples and more occur on a daily basis.
Since one can only be assured of their own safety standards, it is better to be prepared for the worst than assume the driver in an adjacent lane is responsible. Defensive driving is something many employ to add an extra layer of protection against the unknown, anticipating sudden stops, giving cars more room than necessary and steering clear of drivers who are driving erratically.
Even the most keenly aware driver cannot avoid every car accident. In the unfortunate case that you are involved in a crash, here are a few things to avoid in the moments to months after the accident.
What Not to Do After a Car Accident
- Skip 911: There is sometimes a temptation to avoid getting the police involved in an accident, especially one that is minor. Who wants to go through the hassle of waiting for an officer to get to the scene, create a report and contact the insurance companies? However, skipping this step, even in minor accidents, can leave you unprotected and without a case if injuries become apparent in the coming days or car damage is more extensive than first assumed.
It is far better to be safe than sorry when simply calling the authorities can provide both parties with a detailed, unbiased police report that can be used in court, if necessary.
- Lose Your Temper: After the shock of the car accident wears off, anger is an extremely common emotional response, especially in the driver who feels the other motorist was at fault. Instead of letting road rage get the best of the situation, it is best to ensure that all involved are not seriously injured and are safely out of the active roadway and away from the damaged vehicles. Though rare, there is always a chance of fire or explosion after a serious accident.
Assaulting the other driver, even verbally, will make the situation much worse for all involved. Keep calm, cool and collected, and focus on safety instead of finger pointing.
- Forget to Take Photos and Get Info: Taking photos of the scene of the accident can be vital to your case if it goes to court. Document damage to all cars and property involved, as well as any injuries that may have been suffered. If there are witnesses of the car accident, secure their contact info as well.
Other than photos, be sure to ask the other party for their full name, address and insurance provider information (name and policy number). Document the other driver’s make, model and color of car, as well as their license plate number.
- Incriminate Yourself: Shortly after an car accident, those involved are often understandably shaken up and confused. Avoid saying anything that may be used as an admission of guilt. Yes, even a simply “I’m sorry” could have unintended consequences.
Be especially careful not to speak to the other party’s insurance company before contacting an attorney. Insurance companies are only looking to provide you with the least amount of compensation as possible, and will take full advantage of a statement provided while still recovering from the trauma of an accident.
- Run from the Crash: Regardless of the severity of the crash and responsibility therein, any driver who decides to flee the scene has also decided to make their situation unnecessarily much worse. Doing so is a crime and can result in everything from a ticket to serious jail time.
It is hard to know exactly how to handle one’s self after a car accident, but if you know what not to do, you are that much closer to being prepared. Continue to drive with care, obey all of the rules of the road and keep these tips in mind–just in case.
If you are injured in a car accident, please do not hesitate to contact one of our personal injury lawyers today. We are ready to help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve after a crash. Drive safely.