As bad as a car accident can be, it is always possible to make things worse. The actions you take in the minutes that follow a car accident are very important, and so you need to know a few things before an accident occurs. To give you a good start, here are seven things that you should never do in the immediate aftermath of a car accident.
1. Drive Away
For some people, there may be an instinct to drive away and try to forget the whole thing. This is particularly true in cases where you are obviously at fault, and in cases where the damage was insignificant. Either way, you must always stop and exchange insurance information/contact details with the other driver.
If nothing else, you will want to assess the damage done to both vehicles and any injuries that may have occurred. If you don’t do this, it’s called a “hit and run” offense, and it’s a fairly serious crime. If injury, death, or serious damage has occurred, you are required by law to report the incident.
2. Admit Fault
You should never admit fault for the accident right away. This is not meant to encourage lying, but rather to keep from making an irreversible mistake. The factor of fault is not always obvious at first, so it’s better to wait until the matter has been investigated by the police and insurance companies. Once you admit fault, there is no going back.
In the aftermath of an accident, people are often very shaken and upset, and it is very easy for someone to make an incorrect judgment when they are in such a state of mind. Also, you should never begin by apologizing to the other driver, especially if a police officer is present. An apology can sometimes be interpreted as an admission of guilt. If the matter ends up in court, that apology could be used against you.
3. Blow Off Minor Injuries
If any injury has occurred from the collision, you need to get medical attention as soon as possible. Even if the injury seems very slight, you need to go ahead and get it checked anyway. Sometimes, a minor injury can turn out to be much worse than you think. After an event like this, the body is flooded with adrenaline, so you might not feel the full pain until much later. If you have been severely injured, failure to follow this advice can limit your ability to seek compensation.
4. Fail To Obtain Information From The Other Driver
After the accident, you absolutely must exchange information with the other driver. This must include:
- Contact details
- Driver’s license numbers
- Insurance information
- Make, model, and year of their vehicle
- License plate number
- Registration number
Without this information, you will have no way to prove your side of the story. If the question of fault should be disputed, no one is going to take your word for anything without any evidence.
5. Trust Without Verifying
You need to make sure that every aspect of the incident is documented. Take pictures of both vehicles as well as the other driver. If the conditions of the road contributed to the accident, take a picture of the road as well. If any traffic signs are nearby, you might want to get pictures of them as well. This would be a particularly good idea if the other driver disregarded a sign just before the accident. You don’t want to give anyone room to twist the facts in their favor. That is why you should always follow the old axiom: Trust but verify.
6. Give A Statement To The Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Unless the other driver just happens to use the same insurance company that you do, there will be two insurance companies involved here. You should only need to deal with your insurance company directly. If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you and asks for a statement, you probably should not do so. They will often use this as a way to trick people into making an admission of fault. If you are going to talk to the other driver’s insurance company, make sure you have a lawyer present.
7. Don’t Contact Your Insurance Company
After the accident occurs, you absolutely need to contact your insurance company and let them know what has happened. Even if you have already reported the matter to the police and filled out an accident report, your insurance company needs to be notified. The police do not usually notify insurance companies about every accident that occurs. That is your responsibility, and they will be very happy if you fail to report an accident in a timely fashion. At the very least, you need to report the incident on the same day on which it occurred.
Any of these things can cause disaster, and you’re already dealing with one disaster. After reading this, you should have a much better idea of what to do after a car accident. Of course, when all of these preliminary steps are done, you will likely find yourself looking at auto body shops in South Jersey. If you are in need of a good NJ body shop, we would recommend that you call our team here at Elmer’s Auto Body at (856) 218-0202.