There is no question that being involved in a car accident is a traumatic experience. If you contributed to the occurrence of the accident and are unsure how to legally protect yourself in its aftermath, however, the experience could become even worse. Let us share several ways to help protect yourself in the immediate aftermath of an accident, so that you will be in the best position to handle any ensuing legal repercussions.
Call the Authorities
If possible, the first step you should take after being involved in an accident is to pull over to a safe place and evaluate whether you or any of your passengers are injured. Take note of any harm, and call 911 or the local police department, if it is not an emergency situation, for help. A police report is an important piece of documentation to have in the event any legal action is later taken. If the accident is minor and the police do not come to the scene, we encourage you to consider filing your own report with the local police department or Department of Motor Vehicles.
Gather Contact Information
When appropriate, approach the other drivers involved to obtain their contact information, particularly their names, license plate numbers, and insurance information. If you have a smartphone, you may consider taking a picture of his or her driver’s license to confirm his or her identity. Also, using your smartphone to film the scene may be of benefit. While trying to gather this information, it is important to keep in mind that the other party was also just involved in an accident and may be shaken up or disoriented. We know it can be hard to remain calm in this type of high-stress situation, but try to keep a level head and refrain from demanding information.
Do Not Admit Fault
Accidents are stressful, and the need to talk through them is understandable, but talking to other drivers and the police, whether it is volunteering unrelated information, admitting fault, or even apologizing to the other drivers, could lead to your own words being used against you in a liability claim. Accidents are complicated and the exact cause is not always clear, so it is important that you cooperate with the police without implicating yourself unnecessarily if you believe you may be at fault for the accident in question.
Do Not Discuss the Accident
We encourage you not to discuss the details of the accident with another driver, their insurance company, or their attorney without the presence of your attorney, whether at the accident scene or in the days and weeks that follow.
Hire an Attorney
Causing a car accident can have serious consequences, especially if someone is injured. It is important to recognize that each state has its own laws and specific rules with regards to car accidents. We encourage you to speak with a local, qualified attorney to ensure you can make an informed decision about how best to proceed if legal action is taken.
Navigating the logistics of insurance companies and the legal system after causing an accident can be very challenging. Do not wait to seek advice from an experienced, local attorney. Our qualified legal team is right here in Tallahassee and ready to address your questions and concerns day and night. Do not hesitate to seek our advice and schedule a free case evaluation with us.