You're on your way home from work and BAM! Suddenly there's another car parked where your truck was. Or maybe you glanced away for one split second and didn't see the light change to red … and so you've hit someone. Regardless of who is at fault, there are things you should avoid doing or saying after an accident. It's easy to get shook up and feel flustered. Take a couple of deep breaths, try to remain calm, and try to avoid these “don'ts” - common mistakes after a car accident.
Don't Delay Medical Treatment
If anyone is injured, call 911. Getting injuries treated is the number 1 priority. But monitor how much information you give to care providers. Any medical records can be used by either insurance company. Don't say, for example, that you're fine if you're not. Don't be a tough guy and say there's no pain when there is. Be honest and forthcoming.
Don 't Forget the Other Driver
Get all of the driver's information – ask to see his driver's license, insurance card and vehicle registration. Make sure all the names and addresses match, as well as all of the car info. Write down as much information as you can. Your insurance company can do its job best if you provide as much information as possible.
Sounds harsh, but don't apologize or otherwise admit guilt, even if you were at fault. This can be determined as an admission of liability and neither you nor your insurance company want that headache.
Don't Stay in the Road
If it's a minor fender-bender, move the vehicles out of traffic. Choose a nearby parking lot or side street with on-street parking. Before you do move, make sure to take pictures of where the vehicles were positioned and any crash debris on the street.
Don't Avoid the Police
Call the police, even if it's a smaller accident. Police will document the scene and any damage and all that information will be in the police report. This may be the information that makes the difference if your accident results in a lawsuit – either yours or the other driver's.
Don't Forget Your Insurance Company
While you're waiting for the police, get in touch with your insurance company. If you need a tow truck, your insurance agent can set that up for you. Keep in touch with your insurance company every step of the way, especially if you're going to need medical attention. What you do now influences what the insurance companies will pay later.
Speaking of insurance companies … if the other driver's insurance company contacts you, direct them to your provider or to your attorney, especially if anyone was injured. Let the professionals handle the details by providing your team (attorney and insurance company) with all the information they want or need.
The way you handle the time immediately following an accident can have long-term repercussions. Follow this guide to minimize the impact after a fender-bender or more serious accident.