Panic, pain and confusion are often responses people have to car crashes. These feelings will affect your ability to think clearly and make good decisions. Rather than relying on your ability to manage a crisis in the moment, it is probably smarter to have a plan in place already in case you get into a car crash.
Knowing the steps to take immediately after a motor vehicle crash and the most common mistakes that you should avoid can help you stay safe and make it easier for you to get compensation after a crash.
What should you do right after a car crash?
The first thing you should do after a collision is to check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If you can safely exit the vehicle, you may want to approach the other vehicle involved to make sure that people inside are also okay.
From there, contacting emergency services to dispatch police officers and medical assistance if necessary is the smart thing to do. While waiting for first responders, you and the other party can exchange identifying information, registration paperwork and insurance policy numbers.
You can also document the damage to your vehicles and the scene of the crash by taking numerous photos from multiple angles or capturing video footage. Giving police a statement about what occurred is important, as is seeking medical care as soon as possible for you or anyone else who gets hurt.
What shouldn’t you do after a car crash?
There are plenty of mistakes that people can make after a car crash, but there are three that really stand out as damaging to someone’s rights and legal standing after a collision.
- Don’t leave the scene of the crash. Unless someone in your vehicle is hurt so badly that you cannot wait for an ambulance and must immediately proceed to a nearby medical facility, leaving the scene of a crash is a criminal act. Leaving might make you seem guilty in the eyes of police officers and insurance adjusters, even if you don’t get charged with a crime.
- Don’t apologize to the other driver or police officers. Car crashes are inconvenient. Even if you know you aren’t at fault, it may just be natural for you to apologize to everyone affected by the collision. Your apology can serve as evidence that you knew you had fault for the crash.
- Don’t ignore minor injuries and move on with your day. Traumatic brain injuries and internal bleeding, in particular, may not be obvious at the scene of the crash but could prove life-threatening if untreated. Additionally, if you wait for medical care, it may be harder for you to make a claim for compensation.
Talking about your legal rights after a crash with someone familiar with state law and insurance company practices can help you make smarter decisions after a major collision.