There are a lot of lists out there advising you what to do after an accident – most of them tell you to stay calm, get your car off the roadway, and call your insurance agent. While this is certainly important, we’d like to offer some insider tips from our perspective. Here at McWhirter, Bellinger, & Associates we talk to folks all day long who have been in car wrecks. We’ve seen the best and worst of how people react after a wreck.
Here are some of the things you can do to protect yourself at the scene and to protect your interests down the road:
- Safety. This one is obvious, but you’ve probably seen people behaving dangerously after a wreck. Be in a safe place. You don’t always have to move your vehicle off of the roadway, but make sure that you stay in a safe place.
- Injuries. If you think there are injuries, call an ambulance. Even low-velocity impacts can cause severe injuries, so when in doubt, get it checked out.
- Police. Get the police involved, no matter the severity of the wreck. Our local law enforcement agencies do a good job of investigating accidents.
- Witnesses. If any stopped to tell you that they “saw the whole thing” ask them to stick around and tell the police what they saw. Make sure to get their names, addresses, and phone numbers.
- Photos. Take pictures. Almost everyone has a camera in their phone nowadays. Start snapping pictures showing the positions of the vehicles and damage. Don’t forget to get the other car too! This is especially important when you’ve been rear-ended.
- Politeness. Be polite to the other driver, but don’t discuss the accident, save your story for the police.
- Fault. Do not admit fault either – accidents can occur in complex ways that you might not understand at the moment. Any admission could later be used against you.
- Treatment. If you or your passengers are injured, seek medical treatment. Don’t wait around to get better. Use health insurance if you have it.
- Insurance. Call your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company to file claims. Do not wait to hear from them. Don’t sign anything or give a recorded statement without seeking legal advice first.
And remember, if you’ve been in an accident, call McWhirter, Bellinger, & Associates where it won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.