Steps to Take in the Aftermath of a Car Accident
A motor vehicle accident is an extraordinarily stressful event for most people. When you are injured, pain, stress and shock can combine to make you feel confused, upset and angry. Yet it is important to remain as level-headed as possible right after the crash. This post will discuss some of the things you should do – and some you should not do – right after an auto accident.
First and foremost, you should remain at the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident without justification can be a criminal offense in Pennsylvania. It is OK to leave the scene, however, if you are in an unsafe neighborhood or a remote area and you feel threatened. In that case, drive to the nearest police station.
You should check to make sure every driver and passenger involved in the crash is alright. If someone has been injured or if there is serious damage to the vehicles, call 911. It is best not to move an injured person unless it is necessary to get them out of harm’s way. If they are safe where they are, leave them there and wait for ambulance personnel to arrive.
You should exchange insurance information with all other drivers. Note the license plate numbers of all the vehicles and get the names and phone numbers of all drivers and witnesses.
Do not apologize, even if you think the accident was your fault. An apology may be considered an admission of fault and used against you in court. Determining who was at fault in a motor vehicle accident is not always straightforward, so your first instinct may be incorrect.
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. If you have been injured, contacting a personal injury attorney is also a good idea. Be careful not to accept any settlement offer for your injuries without consulting an attorney first. Accepting an early settlement can bar you from claiming additional compensation later, even if your injuries get worse.
Source: Findlaw.com, “After a Car Accident: First Steps,” accessed Dec. 15, 2014