The first thing you should do when in an accident is to make sure you are physically O.K. The best rule of thumb is “better safe than sorry.” If you are in pain, address it immediately. Unfortunately, because legal action is often necessary to address the damage caused by an auto accident, everything you do or say after an accident may be relevant to your case. So, there are a few tips to remember beyond getting the medical attention you need at the scene should it be necessary:
- Do not discuss the accident with anyone at the scene other than a police officer. This is important because sometimes you might believe you were at fault (or partially at fault) and you may not be. If you say something at the time that indicates that you were at fault, this may be held against you later (and, again, the accident might not have been your fault at all).
- Take pictures of the cars and the scene. Most people have cameras on the phones and the best evidence of the condition of the cars or the scene of the accident is at the time of the accident.
- Do not talk to the other driver’s insurance company. They will most likely contact you and ask for you to give them a statement, you do not have to do so. Politely decline. The other driver’s insurance company will be seeking any information it can to minimize the payout and you might say something that hurts your case without realizing it. The best course of action is to decline and indicate that you plan on hiring an attorney. Once you hire counsel, the insurance company will deal with us, not you.
- Make sure you are 100% healthy after the accident. Even if you did not feel immediate pain at the scene of the accident, you might have been injured. People often hear of Whiplash, which is a layman’s term for Cervical Acceleration-Deceleration. The pain from this can become evident the day after (or even later) an accident. If you have any health concerns following an accident, be sure to see a doctor about it.
- If you are injured, call an attorney. Back to the principle “better safe than sorry,” it is always best to get professional advice as to whether it makes sense to hire counsel for an accident. Sometimes you do not need one because of the minor nature of your injuries, but often times having an attorney on your side allows for you to recover more money to compensate you for an accident which is not your fault.