It’s scary, isn’t it?
You’ve just been involved in a car wreck. Your heart is pounding. Your life is flashing before your eyes. You check yourself over. Nothing appears to be broken, and you’re not bleeding. Now what?
This is where most people let their emotions get the better of them. Don’t freak out and do these 5 unusually stupid things.
VIDEO: What To Do After A Car Accident
Driving Off After An Accident
Almost every state has a Vehicle Code or Transportation Code. If they do not, then it will be codified in the state’s “penal code.” Either way, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a “hit and run,” and is a misdemeanor or felony.
Insurance companies don’t look too kindly on the practice, either. Your insurance rates will skyrocket, you may not be able to afford coverage, and the state may revoke your driving privileges. In short, even if you don’t have ill intentions, you should absolutely NEVER drive off after a car accident.
Be VERY Careful If You Decide To “Protect” The Accident Scene
You may actually be erasing key evidence if a crime has been committed. Let the police do the detective work. You hang back and protect yourself. Also, insurance companies need to know the details of the accident, so you don’t want to change or alter anything on your vehicle before an adjuster has had a chance to look at it.
Finally, this is for your own safety. If you try to block off the scene on a busy road, you may put yourself in more danger. Get in your vehicle, if it is safe, and wait for help. If it’s not safe, move to a safe location away from your vehicle and call for emergency service.
Never, Ever Say “I’m Sorry” After An Accident
When you admit guilt, you are setting yourself up to take legal responsibility. Never do this without a lawyer present. If the other driver gets a confession from you, you might unwittingly give up all future rights in any lawsuit or insurance case against you. Even in cases where it may be obvious you were at fault, you should never admit to any wrongdoing after you have had a car accident. The laws are very clear about how you do not need to self incriminate yourself, so don’t!
Avoid Negotiating With The Other Driver At The Scene
Some drivers are tempted to negotiate directly with the other person involved in the accident, for fear their insurance rates will increase if they go through their insurance company. Usually, negotiating is a bad idea. You can’t be sure the other person is honest. If they hand you a check, it may not be good. If they offer cash, you don’t know where it came from.
People tend to avoid going through their insurer when there is something to hide. Keep things on the up and up, and you won’t have any legal problems later.
Forgetting To Document Everything Can Be Costly
Most people know to take pictures of damage to both vehicles. However, what you might forget to do is write down everything about the scene. It seems like overkill, but your memory will fade fast. By the time police arrive, you’ll have completely forgotten some of the finer details — details important to the accident.
For example, the police will want to know who was driving, which direction each driver was going, where you were going, and so on. They will also want to know the circumstances of the accident to determine fault. You will also want to file a police report and get the officer’s name and badge number.
Your insurance adjuster will also want to know all about the accident in vivid detail.
You should write down the VIN number for the other vehicle, the make, model, and year of the vehicle, and its color. If you can get driver information, do it. Take down the driver’s name, driver’s license number, and at least get the name of the other person’s insurance.
Getting the tag information lets you track down someone if they flee the scene before the police arrive.
Take pictures of the accident from several angles. The goal is to get pictures of the damage in context. This means anyone looking at the photos should have an idea of the size, scale, and extent of the damage.
If you’re injured, and EMT arrives, make sure you get a copy of all medical records related to the accident and your injuries before you leave the hospital.
Being in a car accident is scary, and it’s easy to slip up and make mistakes at the scene. That’s why you should keep a checklist of things to do in the event of an accident right in the car with you at all times. Shove it in the glovebox. That way, if you’re in an accident, you don’t have to think. You just do.