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With an average of 6 million auto accidents each year in the United States, chances are that you have been or will be in an accident of some sort in your lifetime. Though you always do your best to avoid accidents, the situation isn’t always in your control when you consider other drivers, the possibility of intoxication, faulty vehicle parts, winter weather hazards, and so much more. One thing that is in your control is how you prepare for an accident and respond in the aftermath to keep yourself safe and protect yourself legally.
When you’ve just experienced an auto accident, you’re likely in shock, trying to comprehend what just happened. In such an emotionally heightened (or numbed) state, it can be difficult to think clearly about what to do next, who to call, or what kind of information you should capture on the scene. That’s why being prepared is important. Here are our tips for how to prepare in advance of an auto accident, and how to best respond in the aftermath.
It’s a good idea for you to create a checklist for yourself of things to do following an accident (like the one below). Keep it in your vehicle so that if the situation does come up, you won’t have to rack your brain to figure out your next steps. It can also be helpful to print a card with your medical insurance information, doctors’ contact information and medical conditions in case you are incapacitated in a crash and someone needs to call for help on your behalf. Always keep paper and a pen or pencil in your car so that you can record the information you need after an accident.
After you experience an auto accident, there are several steps to take to protect yourself legally and ensure you have everything you need. Follow these steps as they apply to your situation:
If the accident was minor, drive your vehicle to safety in a nearby spot away from traffic, such as on the shoulder or a side street.
Do this no matter how minor the crash was. A police report is an important record and may help to protect your rights if the other driver was at fault, especially if there is property damage or injury.
Check to see if anyone is injured. Call an ambulance if you are unsure about the severity of anyone’s injuries. If your injuries are mild, be sure to see a doctor within the next couple of days, as even mild injuries can develop complications. Be sure to retain any doctors’ notes, imaging or other records associated with visits to medical professionals.
Be calm and courteous when speaking to others involved in the accident, but don’t admit fault. Even something as seemingly innocent as saying you’re sorry can result in legal implications later on. Don’t discuss the accident too much with anyone other than law enforcement and your insurance agent. Don’t sign any document that is not related to your insurance company or the police.
Take notes, take pictures of the crash scene, and exchange insurance information with the other driver. The more documentation, the better. To download a complete checklist of everything you should leave the scene with, click here.
Following these steps will leave you with confidence as you prepare a claim for your accident when it comes to both your health insurance and your auto insurance. The documentation you gather can also help lawyers like those at Cok Kinzler prepare a strong case should you need to take legal action due to a personal injury or death of a passenger.
If you’ve recently been involved in an auto accident and have legal questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Cok Kinzler for a free evaluation of your case. Contact us using the form at the bottom of this page.
The content in this blog is to provide you with information on what to do before and after a crash, but should not be taken as legal advice.