Every driver should know what to do if involved in an accident. Most drivers have no idea what they are supposed to do if they are involved in an accident. Experts predict that every driver will have at least one accident every 17 years. In 2014 alone there were over 4.5 million injuries due to vehicle accidents.
Knowing what to do if involved in an accident is very important when it comes to protecting your rights after a car accident. Most people make the mistake of thinking that the insurance company will take care of everything. This can be a critical error. Learn what to do if involved in an accident to help protect yourself.
Who’s Fault Is It?
Insurance companies and the authorities like to have someone to blame for an accident. Insurance companies also do not like to pay for accidents. One of the first mistakes someone makes when they are involved in an accident is prematurely accepting blame for the accident. You may not even do it intentionally but sometimes you can absolutely say too much.
When you are involved in an accident the authorities will take a statement at the scene. They may even issue you a ticket, but that does not mean that you are required by law to admit guilt on the spot. A much better course of action is to discuss the case with an attorney that can better advise you.
You may be charged with the accident at the scene but a good trial lawyer can get the charges thrown out or reduced in the future as long as you do not incriminate yourself. Now, that does not mean to argue with the police officer at the scene because that will not do you any good. As a matter of fact, if you are argumentative at the scene it can actually be detrimental to your case.
There are three things that you always want to remember about what to do if involved in an accident:
- Never leave the scene of the accident. It is always best to stick around until the authorities arrive even if the other driver tells you it’s okay to leave. It is not okay to leave the scene of an accident. It is actually against the law.
- Do not argue, fight, or threaten the other driver. It can be very stressful to be involved in an auto accident, but don’t let your temper and the stress get the best of you. Threatening, yelling, or physical altercations just add the possibility that you will go to jail on assault charges.
- Follow the directions of the police. This is not the time to debate with the cops. If there is anything that you think happened that was violating your rights, let your lawyer fight it out in court.
Legal help is vital after any type of accident. Make sure you secure the services of an attorney as soon as you are able to.
What To Do If Involved In An Accident And You Are Injured
Often immediately following a car accident you may go into shock. Your adrenaline starts to pump and you may not notice that you are injured. In all cases, except for the most minor accidents, it is important that you get checked out medically.
Sometimes the aches and pains of an injury after an accident do not really start showing up until the next day. To be on the safe side it is important that you get medical attention. It is also very important that you document all contact you have with any medical professionals. Keep track of:
- Diagnostic testing.
- Treatment records.
- Future treatment plans.
If you get any type of medical care like chiropractic care, document it, keep your records. Get a copy of your treatment plan, get a copy of your diagnosis, get hard copies of everything. It is important that you take responsibility for keeping these records.
Don’t assume that your insurance company will take care of everything, they may not. It is important that you have legal advice throughout the process. Again, what to do if involved in an accident number one rule, is to hire a lawyer.
Whether you were at fault in the accident or not, one of your rights as an accident victim is to have your medical care paid for by the insurance company. Of course, insurance companies are businesses, they are in business to turn a profit. Paying out insurance claims is not a great way to turn a profit. You can feel like a Salmon swimming upstream when you are trying to get approvals from the insurance company for care. A health care lawyer can help.
A lawyer can fight back on your behalf. The insurance company (every insurance company) has a team of lawyers on the payroll to find ways to deny a claim. You have to even the playing field by having your own lawyer.
Do not deny yourself medical care, and follow your doctor’s instructions. If the doctor recommends using wheelchairs for mobility, use them. If the doctor tells you not to return to work, do not return to work, no matter how much pressure the insurance company tries to put you under.
Your health is too important to risk. Follow the doctor’s orders to the tee they are the experts that know how to get you back on your feet, not the insurance adjuster. Some of the therapies that your doctor recommends like vision therapy service, the insurance company may push back on, but your lawyer can ensure you get the care that your doctor recommends not the care that your insurance company wants to pay for.
What To Do If Involved In An Accident After You Have Been Drinking
Let’s say you went to a bar with some friends had exactly two mixed drinks over the course of two hours. On the way home, you hit a guy on a bike in the parking lot, luckily no one is seriously injured. What do you do? You know you have been drinking, but you also know that you have not been drinking heavily, however, you have been in the bar long enough to smell like you have been drinking a lot.
What to do if involved in an accident after you have been drinking is stay where you are and cooperate with the police. It can be scary to know that you may wind up having to call a bail bond company to get you out of jail in a couple of hours, but it is a lot scarier to be on the lamb cause the cops are out there looking for you.
The cops will definitely make you “blow” at the scene of the accident. Your breathalyzer results may come back and ignite a suspicion of intoxication. You may be arrested on the spot. You may have to go through the process of being booked. You may also have to bail out of jail.
The fact is it is absolutely not an ideal situation, but a good lawyer can help you to navigate the charges, maybe even get them reduced, but you still have to go through the process. Today, there is absolutely no reason anyone should be drinking and driving. The laws are pretty strict when it comes to drinking and driving as are the penalties. For example, in some states, you do not have to be convicted of DUI to lose your license. If you refuse to take the breathalyzer test in many states you automatically forfeit your license for a year.
What to do if involved in an accident and charged with DUI? Get a good lawyer. Your lawyer may suggest some alcohol intervention classes before your court date to help your case. You may be thinking I do not drink like that or I only had two drinks over the course of a couple of hours. That all may be true, but if you had that last drink 15 minutes before you got into the accident the breathalyzer equipment is going to return that you were over the legal limit.
What takes you over the legal limit in part has to do with how much alcohol you consume per hour but there are other factors as well. Your body fat composition plays a role, how your body metabolizes alcohol, even how much you sweat, can all play a role in whether that test will return a reading that says you are intoxicated.
What to do if involved in an accident and I know I am drunk. Let’s say you had five mixed drinks in two hours instead of two. You are feeling buzzed and you run a red light and hit someone. What do you do? The first thing you do not do is try to take off. You will get caught.
The next thing you do not do is try to argue you point with the cops. It is easier just to go through the process and let your lawyer handle the case. You will be arrested. If there is serious bodily harm you can be charged with a slew of crimes. The moral of the story, don’t drink and drive. Call an Uber, call a friend, do anything but get behind the wheel.
What To Do If Involved In An Accident And The Damages Are Below a Certain Threshold
Fender benders in the parking lot or accidents that result in no injuries or minor damage are typically easier to handle. You can call the police, and you should, file a formal police report. The other driver involved may try to discourage from you from calling the police. They may offer to pay for the damages. They may even seem genuine in their offer. They may produce an insurance card, give you their name, address, and phone number. They may seem like really nice people that just need a break, unfortunately, they can also hand you some fake stuff, pull away, and you will never see or hear from them again.
It is no surprise that plenty of people drive around without insurance on their vehicles. It is also no surprise that innocent people get screwed over by people that promise to pay for damage then never follow through. It is nice to give people a break¸ but you should understand, that if they don’t pay or they give you fake info you do not really have a lot of options for recourse.
It is terrible that we live in a world that requires you to call the authorities if someone damages your property in an accident, but it is the only guarantee that you will have recourse if they don’t pay up. In cases of minor damage, the insurance company will not cover any of the costs until the deductible is met. That means if your policy has a $500 deductible (the most common) and your car sustained $600 in damages, you have to pay that first $500. The insurance will only cover $100 of the damages.
Filing a police report will provide you with tracking of the accident and ensure that the nice person that hit you is on the up and up. If you do not want to file the claim with the insurance company, and the other driver has agreed to pay for the damages, it is really a good idea to have a police officer there as a witness. Additionally, the police officer will run the plates on both cars and check ID’s to ensure everyone involved is telling the truth.
What To Do If Involved in an Accident and It’s a Hit and Run
Sometimes there are accidents and the other driver takes off and flees the scene. In this case, it is considered a hit and run accident, because your car was hit and the driver took off. The best thing you can do in this situation is to call the police, file a report, and talk to people at the scene who may have witnessed the accident. Never, ever chase after a car that hit you and fled the scene. You never know how desperate someone may feel, and desperate people, do very desperate things. Let the police handle the other driver, and let your lawyer handle things with the insurance company.
Be a savvy driver and prepare yourself for what to do if involved in a accident. Knowing what to do makes life easier and will make you feel more confident when you are driving.