Crash! The sound of 2 vehicles smashing together. Screech! The sound of braking before a collision. No one sets off on a journey expecting to be in a car accident. But no matter how careful we are on the roads, accidents do happen. In fact, in the US there are 6 million car accidents each year.
Here are some immediate steps if you get in any vehicle accident. It is important to know what to do immediately after, especially if you’re not the one at fault.
First Things You Should Do
Make sure that no one requires medical attention. If they do, call 911. While at the scene, gather information as quickly as possible, including:
- The information of those involved: names, addresses, contact details, and driving license numbers.
- The vehicles involved: the make, model, and year of the vehicle, the registration number and expiration date.
- Scene information: the weather conditions, time of day, any obstructions in the road, approximate speeds of the vehicles, and the directions they were traveling.
Take pictures and videos of the vehicles involved, any paperwork, insurance information, and even other relevant information such as obstructions, especially if they had a direct effect on the accident. This will improve your chances of getting compensation.
If possible, talk to any witnesses who can help prove fault in court. However, it’s important to remember that no witnesses are under any legal obligation to talk to you.
Avoid Doing These Things Right After A Car Accident
Immediately following an accident, there are some things that you should NOT do:
- Flee the scene – you will face legal action if you leave anyone injured.
- Discuss the accident with the other party’s insurance company before talking to the authorities and your own insurance company – they may pressure you into accepting a lowball settlement.
- Post anything to social media which can be misconstrued.
- Apologize or accept blame in any way. Washington law operates on comparative negligence, so you may be found at partial or total fault by being polite and apologizing.
- Believe you are not hurt – it takes 24-48 hours sometimes to feel the actual physical effect of a collision impact.
- Accept that the other party and you can “work this out later.” Get the police involved and make them document the accident, take identification and fill out a report. It is sometimes too easy to just deal with it later, but then it can be difficult to prove what happened.
Filing a Claim – Contact your Lawyer
If you already have a lawyer, then contact him or her right away so that he/she can direct you on the next steps. You will likely be filing a claim and lawyers do this every day. Most road traffic accidents are dealt with through insurance companies. You’ll need to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider who will offer you a settlement following a full investigation.
If the at-fault party is uninsured or you are not happy with the offer, you should consult with a lawyer. Statistics show that you are in a much stronger position by hiring an attorney to assist you with the process and legal paperwork.
You’ll significantly increase your chances of getting the best settlement if you:
- Have good evidence of the accident that helps show fault
- Have reliable witnesses that can testify
- Have a competent, aggressive attorney represent you
Get the Compensation You Deserve
Being in a car accident that wasn’t your fault can be traumatizing. The last thing you want is to worry about medical bills, paying for car repairs, or stressing about taking time off work to recover.
By following these simple steps following a car accident, you can be sure you get the best outcome and a settlement that covers your losses, allowing you to focus on recovering and moving on with your life.