We all hope it won’t happen to us, but the fact is auto accidents happen even to the best drivers, and in today’s vlog from the Law Offices of Wiener & Lambka, we’d like to talk about what drivers should do after being involved in an automobile accident.
Step One: Always Be Prepared
One of the most basic actions a driver can take to help themselves in the event of an auto accident is to be prepared before the fact. Drivers should make sure they have their primary documentation on hand; that being driver’s license and car registration as well as the requisite insurance card.
Drivers should also have their cell phone within reach, and it would be wise for drivers to keep an emergency kit in the trunk of the car too. An emergency kit will have useful items such as flares, reflectors, maybe even pylons that can help the driver secure the area around the scene of the accident.
Get To Safety Then Take A Breath
Which leads to the next key step immediately following an accident, which is to move one’s car to a safe area. If an accident occurs in an intersection or on a highway, the most immediate course of action is to move the vehicle if at all possible, to the side of the road or somewhere else that reduces the likelihood of being struck by oncoming traffic.
Once out of immediate danger it is now time to deal with the accident itself.
The first thing the driver should do, is:
- Take a deep breath and focus on assessing the situation.
- Are all parties out of the way of immediate harm?
- Check on any passengers in your vehicle, then people in the other car as well. During this time, adrenaline is pumping through the system, emotions are running high, as is to be expected, and judgment will probably not be what it could be, it is important to try as much as possible to remain calm and focus on the immediate safety of all individuals involved.
So, after securing the safety of everyone involved, taking a deep breath and a brief but heartfelt count to ten, it is now time to document the scene.
The driver should take photos of literally everything on the scene.
Be sure to document where the vehicles came to rest if it is possible to do safely. Take thorough notes and describe the scene and any distinguishing features of note. Describe the traffic signal, the stop signs and crosswalk and anything else that might have an impact in terms of an investigation.
By now the police should also have arrived, or at least have been called, since independent witnesses will be necessary.
Take photos of both vehicles, the other driver, their license and registration – for establishing ownership of the other car, and their insurance card. Take note of anything that cannot be clearly conveyed through photos, such as the smell of alcohol or narcotics, or slurred speech by the other driver.
Don’t rely on police to gather this information, the driver should take ownership of the situation and establish their own records.
Time To Call The Insurance Agency
At this point it is appropriate to contact one’s insurance carrier and inform them of the accident. This step is legally required as per stipulation in the insurance contract.
This also represents the first step in using the driver’s own first party insurance to address any expenses for property damage, towing, rental, medical care and payments for lost wages. If the accident wasn’t your fault, your company should have no legal grounds do anything to you like raising your rates.
This is after all, why you pay for insurance, to be there for you in exactly this type of situation.
Don’t Sign Anything Without An Attorney’s Advice
It goes without saying that other than cooperating with police officers on site, the driver should take care to sign nothing, particularly if presented with documents by the other driver’s insurance agent. While this is not the time to contact a lawyer, but rather to secure the safety of all parties involved, a personal injury attorney will be able to answer any question or act on behalf of the driver when dealing with insurance companies or medical professionals.
Protect yourself, and avoid accidents in the first place if possible. But when the time is right, count on Wiener & Lambka to be there for you.