Getting into a car accident is one of the most unexpected situations you don’t want to experience. Even though people take precautions to prevent them, anyone who rides in a vehicle is at risk. Choosing the right steps to protect yourself reduces financial and legal risks while understanding your rights. Here are six ways to protect yourself when an accident occurs:
#1. Stop and preserve the accident scene
Immediately after the accident turn on your flashers or set up flares near the car. You want people to avoid being near the vehicle. Check on everyone involved to make sure they are okay. Observed what happened and what occurred. Stay near your disabled vehicle and out of the way of traffic.
#2. Call the police and stay at the scene
Do not leave the accident scene. In some cases, leaving could lead to charges being filed against you. If there are no injuries or minor injuries, you should still call the police and file a report. Most insurance companies want a copy of the report for claims purposes. Leave the vehicle where it is so police can observe it. If an ambulance is necessary, request it when calling the police to address any injuries.
#3. Take pictures of vehicle damage
While waiting for the police to arrive, take pictures with your camera phone. You can forward the photos to your insurance company and have them for personal reference for legal claims filing. Many drivers choose to purchase quality dash cameras from places such as Dash Cams to help capture any vehicle activity that occurs.
#4. Exchange insurance information
Get insurance details from the other driver and report the accident to your insurance carrier. Your insurance company may provide additional instructions and request more information about the accident. Be mindful of what your insurance covers, especially if there were injuries involved requiring medical attention. Some injuries become apparent after the accident.
#5. Give a detailed account of the accident
Give an accurate description of the accident to the police for a police report. Do not assume fault or place blame on who caused the accident. It helps when both drivers give information that lines up with the damage so police and the insurance company can obtain an accurate description of what happened.
#6. Know your rights and obtain legal counsel
An attorney can advise you on what actions to take after an accident. Some suggest you consult with legal counsel before giving a statement to the insurance company. You can learn additional insight to protect yourself and evidence related to the accident. Many attorneys will consult with you immediately after an accident and recover their service fees later.
It is essential to know what to do if you experience a traffic accident. Protecting yourself includes knowing your rights, especially if you qualify for compensation or need to dispute the accident. Retain all documents received related to the accident for future reference and get answers to any questions you have.