When accidents happen, we just want it over and done with so that we don’t have to deal with the hassle and think about it anymore. However, sometimes, if the proper procedures are not followed, time saving steps can get drivers into trouble. Here are 10 common mistakes that people make after a car crash:
Even if the accident was very minor and both cars and drivers look fine, do not just nod at each other and drive off, even if it’s tempting to avoid the hassle. This is illegal, as it is considered failure to stop and render aid. All parties are responsible for stopping, exchanging information, checking on the other parties involved and reporting the incident to the police. You’d want them to stop for you, and, in any case, it’s the law.
Stay in Traffic
Unless your car is physically incapable of moving onto the shoulder or off the main road, move all vehicles to a safer location. Make sure that everybody is out of harm’s way and not stepping into, or close to, traffic at any point. Safety first.
Get Visibly Angry or Emotional
It is understandable to be upset or frustrated at the occurrence of a traffic accident, but it’s not a good idea to bring it up now or take it out on the other person. The other party or parties may not react well, and the situation could get a lot more complicated. These interactions after an accident are not personal, simply a matter of getting things resolved so that everyone can move forward.
Be polite and understanding throughout the entire process, but do not apologize. Admitting fault could possibly be used against you at a later time in court.
Dismiss Calling the Police
When damages are minor, many people simply agree to settle things between themselves and the insurance company. But what if the insurance and contact information is incorrect or outdated? Then, without a police report, you have no proof that the accident happened at all. Just call to be safe, and many times police officers won’t come out to an incident if all damages are minor.
Miss Any Information
Things that you need to make sure to get down correctly include contact information of all parties involved in the accident, contact information of witnesses, specific location of the accident, insurance company name and contact information, and details about all public officials involved (police department, report number, officer names, ambulance company, etc).
Unless you’re being asked by the police to sign something, don’t sign any unofficial documents. You aren’t under any obligations outside of those given by the law and law enforcement officials.
Forget to Document
Take pictures! From the damage on the cars to the conditions of the road, take documentation of everything you can to keep facts straight and clear. If you don’t have a camera, write down very specific and detailed notes.
Assume Your Car is Safe to Drive
Following a vehicular accident it is important to ensure that the vehicles involved are still roadworthy prior to leaving the scene. All brake and running lights should be inspected as well as a brief structural check to ensure that mechanical drive parts have not been damaged or are leaking fluids.
Leave the Scene Before Everyone Else
Leave with or after the other drivers and police cars. You want to stick it out to the end of the situation so that you know everything has been resolved for the day.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, don’t be left in the dark; find a car accident lawyer who knows how to navigate the process and protect your rights.