Our roadways are busy places these days and becoming more and more congested all the time. Unfortunately, this reality means a corresponding increase in car accidents. Be certain you and your loved ones know what to do, and maybe just as importantly know what not to do, if you are in a vehicle crash.
Stop and Attend to the Immediate Concerns
No matter how minor an accident may seem, you must stop and ascertain the damages. Of course, physical injury to any person is of paramount concern; if immediate medical attention is required, make sure there are no delays in calling for help. If safe to do so, carefully drive the vehicles involved off the road, or set up flares if that is not possible.
Contact the Police
Depending on the severity of the accident and where it occurred, the police may or may not respond. A police report can be useful in supporting your version of the accident and establishing potential liability.
Exchange Pertinent Information with the Other Driver
California law requires each driver to maintain insurance, up-to-date vehicle registration, and a valid driver’s license; this information must be provided to the other driver if you are involved in a car accident. Additionally, it’s prudent to obtain contact information from others at the scene, such as passengers, pedestrians or any other witnesses.
Create a Record
Even if the police respond and are taking information from the various parties, it’s always a good idea to make your own record of the events, especially while things are fresh in your mind. Time, the sequence of events, pictures, distances and anything else you can remember may be helpful. However, be as factual as you can, and avoid speculation.
Report the Accident to Your Insurer
You may be tempted to avoid filing a claim with your insurance company, especially if the other driver acknowledges fault and offers to make a private settlement. Be cautious. The terms of some policies limit the time within which you must report a loss without risking denial of benefits. Also, realize that a not-at-fault accident should have no impact on your rates.
Protect Your Rights
You best protect yourself by adhering to a driver’s legal requirements following a car accident, not speaking about the accident to anyone other than the police and by not admitting fault to anyone. Consider a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you recover all that you are legally entitled to.