Ignoring one can impact your settlement.
Consider these 3 findings. You are one of 222 million licensed drivers in the United States [a]. There are 6 million auto accidents every year in this country; more than half of which are rear-end and t-bone collisions [b]. And if you’re considered an “average driver” by car insurance industry standards, you’ll experience 3 to 4 accidents in your lifetime [c].
What does this mean for you?
If you ever find yourself as an injured victim of a car accident, you need to know the necessary and immediate actions required to protect your legal rights and the success of your claim.
To protect yourself and your loved ones who drive, I have put together this list of 5 actions everyone should take immediately after they’ve been rear-ended or t-boned. I would recommend that you print out the following list, share it, and keep it in your car in the unforeseen event that you find yourself as a victim of an automobile accident.
- Call the Police. Don’t overthink the accident. Always call the police immediately after your car has come to a stop. Too many times have victims failed to notify the Police, and this comes back to haunt them when they file their claim. Police reports are just as important as medical reports in the court of law. If the other driving party, or parties, tell you that you don’t need to notify the police, thank them for their recommendation but disregard it and make the call. Lastly, the Police are peacekeepers in a time of immense stress and frustration between separate driving parties. Not everyone will remain calm, but you should.
- Call family and friends that are close by. Once you hang up with the authorities, promptly call your family and friends that live closest to the location of the accident. Depending on the severity of the accident, and how inquisitive the police officer is when recording the details, you’ll want your loved ones at the scene helping you with documentation. Family and friends will be more than willing to assist in taking photos of the automobiles involved in the accident, street signs, traffic signals and tire marks, and they will even speak with eye witnesses. Their testimony and presence can also be very valuable in the courts if your case ever reaches that point.
- Check yourself for injuries. Now that the Police and your family and friends have calmed you down, lowering the adrenaline levels that may mask any pain or discomfort, you’ll want to check your body for injuries. If there is a good level of pain, you’ll want to seek medical attention at a hospital or urgent care facility immediately after the closure of the scene of the accident. No matter how little the pain or how good you feel, it’s best to err on the side of caution and at least make an appointment with your primary doctor in the next 24 hours.
- Do not admit fault. After you’ve made the necessary contacts and you’ve checked yourself for injuries, the other driving party or parties are likely to begin initiating you in conversation. This is critical—Never admit fault. This includes saying, “I’m sorry.” and “I didn’t see you there.” Anything and everything you say can be misinterpreted by the other party, and they will not forget what you said, especially if they are following similar advice and documenting everything about the accident. It’s best to be as mum as possible, sharing in small talk, and asking if everyone is okay.
- Document everything. Whether your family and friends arrived on the scene to assist with documentation or not, it’s you the driver’s main responsibility to lead the collection of photos, eyewitness testimonies and the collection of other evidence. Similar to the phrase “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.”, you should also believe that “There’s no such thing as a stupid observation.” Take down all of the notes you can possibly think of, snap dozens of photos, and write down questions about the incident that only an attorney, doctor or insurance representative would know the answer. This is also true in the days following the incident, including medical appointments, receipts and other pertinent information.