The 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Being Involved in a Car Accident
Finding yourself involved in a collision with another driver is a jarring experience to go through. Even if you are being completely safe on the road, there is no way to control the actions of other drivers and sometimes an accident is unavoidable. In this situation, how you respond can make a major difference if the accident becomes a lawsuit in the future, regardless of who caused the wreck.
How Common Are Car Accidents?
As of the latest data, every minute thirteen car crashes occur on average which costs the overall economy over $400 billion in damages. This data includes crashes between vehicles, pedestrians, and more. On top of this, tens of thousands of people involved in the millions of car accidents that occur yearly die, while nearly five million people suffer injuries on an annual basis.
While it's not a pleasant thought to consider, car accidents are extremely common statistically. Some of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States include:
- Impaired driving resulting from drugs or alcohol
- Distracted driving such as checking a phone
- Speeding or reckless driving based on road conditions
- Poor weather limiting visibility and driving ability
- Drivers getting on the road when they are tired
As a driver, protecting your safety and the safety of your passengers is always a top priority. Unfortunately, this isn't always possible, and an accident may still occur due to factors beyond your control. In this situation, there are a number of important do's and don'ts to follow in order to stay safe and legally protected.
Important Do's and Don'ts When Involved in an Accident
1. Do check yourself and others for injuries right away
Immediately after an accident occurs and any imminent danger has passed, you should inspect your body for any signs of injury. Following this, check with any passengers in your vehicle to ensure that nobody has suffered an injury. If there has been any injury at all, contact emergency services to get an ambulance sent in your direction. Additionally, it's best to visit a doctor's office as soon as possible following an accident as not all injuries show physical signs.
2. Do get all vehicles involved off the road if you are able to
When an accident happens, it's easy to be shocked in the moment and to want to step out of your vehicle. Assuming your vehicle is still functioning, however, get it out of the road as soon as possible by pulling over to the shoulder. By staying in the road, you risk causing a car accident that can harm someone else which can result in legal issues.
3. Do take photos of any damage to your vehicle and other vehicles
Take photos of the damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle involved in the wreck for insurance purposes. This offers security to both parties by ensuring that all damages have been documented at the time of the accident and that nothing was inflicted after the fact.
4. Do trade contact and insurance information with other drivers
Take a photo of the driver's license and insurance information of other drivers involved in the accident so that you can coordinate with their insurance company at a later date. In the event you can't find their company, having their contact information will help you or the authorities locate the person.
5. Do contact the authorities
After an accident, it's best to call the authorities to inform them of what occurred. In more serious accidents, there may be debris or other damaged items in the roadway that are impeding traffic. An officer may need to come out and close the road to clean these items up so that traffic can flow normally.
6. Don't drive away if you don't see damage on the other vehicle
The biggest don't involved with being in a car accident is driving away. Whether you don't think there was damage or didn't register the accident, this will count as a hit-and-run and is illegal.
7. Don't react emotionally to the other driver(s)
If another driver causes the accident you are involved in, it's easy to want to react with anger towards them due to their actions. However, if you lash out and strike them or instigate the situation in a way that causes major issues, other legal concerns may soon arise. Always stay calm following an accident to ensure that the situation doesn't get worse.
8. Don't fail to report the accident to your insurance company
When an accident occurs, it's best to call your insurance company to inform them and give them a heads up. Do not provide details on what happened yet, but simply inform them that an accident occurred and that a claims process will be started soon.
9. Don't falsify what happened during the accident
When you speak with your insurance company or an officer, be sure to include all details about what caused the crash and don't leave anything out. To that end, don't add your own details in in an effort to make yourself seem less guilty. Tell the entire truth of what occurred for the best result.
10. Don't try to get debris out of the road yourself
After an accident happens, you may notice debris sitting in the road that is causing an issue for oncoming traffic. Now is not the time to be a good Samaritan by getting it out of the road. Your presence in the road could cause an oncoming driver to react poorly which can result in another accident.
Stay safe after a wreck
Nobody wants to be involved in a car accident, but an unfortunate fact of life is that they are quite common. Before you ever get behind a wheel, make sure all distractions are put away or secured and only drive when you have complete focus and attention on the road. If you've been involved in an accident with another driver who you believe acted with negligence, contact an accredited injury attorney in your area who can walk you through what legal options may be available.