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Dos and Don'ts if You're in a Car Accident

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DOs

Do immediately call for medical help if someone is injured.

An injury that may seem minor at first could potentially be something more serious.

Do exchange information with the other parties involved.

Be sure to get the following information: license plate numbers; the others drivers’ insurance information and driver’s license numbers; and, the make and model of the vehicles involved in the accident.

Do report the accident to your car insurance company as soon as possible.

It’s important that they are notified right away so they can open up a claim as soon as possible. It also helps to contact them quickly when the details of the accident are still fresh in your mind.

Do get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses.

Witnesses can be very key to providing unbiased observations about the accident, and they can help corroborate your account of the events so that it’s not a case of one person’s word against another’s.

Do take note of the conditions surrounding the accident.

Take note of such as the time of day, weather, distances, any dangerous conditions, etc.

Do call the police if necessary.

They will document the accident and gather facts for legal purposes. In auto accidents, police reports are key pieces of evidence, and can often solve an issue of liability that may take months to sort out otherwise. An insurance company is not going to want to dispute the findings of a police officer.

DON'Ts

Don’t leave the scene of the accident.

This may go without saying, but you should never leave the scene of an auto accident until you are sure everything is taken care of, including getting the necessary information from the other driver and having the police take a report if necessary.

Don’t delay in getting treatment if you are injured.

You may be seriously injured and not realize it. In addition, someone may question the validity of your injuries if choose not to immediately seek treatment. No matter how injured you may be, if you wait to get treatment (even for a very valid reason), an insurance company is going to try to use that fact to question the severity of your injuries.

Don’t discuss the accident with anyone at the scene, and don’t discuss who is at fault.

Statements made about who or what caused the accident can later be used to challenge certain versions of the accident, and may be used against you.

Don’t forget take pictures.

This is especially important in an auto accident. What may seem obvious at the time may become less clear as memories fade. Pictures can be important evidence of exactly how things were that day, including the location of the accident and other small details like the weather.

Don’t speak to anybody from the at-fault party’s insurance company before consulting a lawyer.

The other insurance company will want to get a statement from you, which might be used against you later if you remember things differently or if your injuries are more serious than you realized at first. For instance, if the other driver’s insurance company gets a statement from you a few days after the accident, and you happen to say the accident wasn’t that serious and you just had a minor back injury, if it turns out later on you actually had a serious back injury, that original statement can be used against you.

Don’t wait to get legal advice.

The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to prove your case. It’s important to have professional help from the very beginning.

Don’t sign any documents from an insurance company without getting legal advice first.

You may be inadvertently waiving rights you may have.

Don’t agree to a settlement of your case until you get legal advice.

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