According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 35,000 people in the United States were killed in automobile crashes in 2014. On top of that, 2.34 million more were seriously injured. Statistically, there is a good possibility that you may be involved in a car crash at some point, no matter how many precautions you take.
If you are involved in an automobile accident, it is crucial to know what to say and how to act to protect yourself. The moments after the crash are vital for your claim.
So, you got into a car accident. What do you do afterwards?
- Do not flee the scene of the accident – It’s normal to get nervous after a car accident, but the last thing you want to do is flee the scene of an accident. It is your legal obligation to stop and see if anyone was hurt. If you fail to render aid and stay at the scene of an accident, you can be charged with a crime, even if you were not at fault for causing the wreck. You can still face criminal charges if the accident involved property damage only. Always check to see if anyone was injured, and if they were, call 911 for help. If you can’t call 911 for some reason, you are still responsible for ensuring that the injured make it to a hospital or otherwise receive medical treatment.
- Do not admit fault – It’s natural for people to apologize after an accident, but this is the last thing you want to do. If you take the blame by saying, “I’m sorry, it was all my fault,” or make any statements that can be interpreted as an admission of fault or contribution to a crash, this will only cause problems during the claims process. Even if you “think” a collision is your fault, it may not be. Leave it to the insurance companies, law enforcement, and lawyers to investigate and determine liability.
- Deciding not to call the police – Not calling the police is a bad idea. If you and the other driver decide not to call the police, you miss out on having an objective third party record the details and relevant information involved in your collision. Remember, a lot of drivers don’t have insurance. The other driver can try to talk you into not calling the police and letting the insurance companies handle it, but then you may find out they don’t have insurance or provided you with false information. One of the best ways to protect yourself during the claims process is to ensure that you call the police and have them file a police report.
- Not exchanging information with the other driver – Just like not calling the police, not exchanging all identifying information with the other driver can make it difficult to track them down and hold them liable for your damages. Let’s say you only get the other driver’s cell number, then later find out they gave you a wrong number. This could result in not being able to pursue compensation. To protect yourself, get all the information you can, including a license plate number. It is also wise to take pictures of the scene and vehicles involved.
The Mullen Law Firm has helped numerous victims and families after they were harmed in auto accidents. Over the years, we have seen how mistakes made in the aftermath of a crash can complicate matters for victims during their pursuit of fair compensation, which is why it is so important to make sure you take the right steps.
If you were injured in an accident in New Jersey or New York, contact us for a FREE consultation.