Did you know? The three most common causes of car accidents in the United States are speeding, distracted driving, and drunk driving. But even if you’re a very careful and responsible driver, accidents can still happen. Figuring out how to proceed after a car accident is the real challenge.
Whether you’re on the job working for trucking services or you’re in your family vehicle, getting in a car accident can feel like a nightmare. Navigating the complex legal situation that so often ensues can seem just as bad. Most people don’t know off the top of their heads how to proceed after a car accident. But even when you’re prepared, actually facing the experience is still daunting.
Fortunately, help is never far away. In this article, we’ll go over the options you might have for how to proceed after a car accident. Hopefully, by the end, your main questions will be answered, and you’ll know what to do from here.
How to Proceed After a Car Accident: Repairs and Response
You may not know the first thing about cars, compressor fluid, or any of the other components involved. You also may not know exactly what to do if you find yourself in the middle of an auto accident. But you do know that, when an accident occurs, there are probably going to be some complicated things to get done, and there will definitely be serious repairs in order. Keep reading to learn how to proceed after a car accident and eventually get your vehicle up and running again.
What to do After a Car Accident
Realizing you’ve just gotten in an accident is a frightening experience. Before you can start looking into dent repair for your damaged vehicle, there are some steps you will need to take to make sure everyone is safe and you abide by the law.
The first thing to do is find out if you or any of your passengers are injured. If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately or ask a bystander to do so. If you’re seriously injured, try not to move and simply wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
Next you should check and make sure the other driver and any passengers with them are safe. If they are injured, call 911 immediately if they haven’t done so already.
If everyone is able to move safely, the next step is for everyone to move away from the site of the crash. Or, if your car is still safe to drive and creating a hazard where it is, you should pull it over to the side of the road.
If no one was injured and you didn’t call 911 already, now’s the time to let the police know about the accident. Even in a very minor accident, calling the police is important, and in some places, it’s legally necessary. Usually, a police officer will respond and come to fill out an accident report. In rare cases, you may be instructed to go to the nearest police station and file a report yourself. Remember, your insurance company may ask for a copy of the police report to assist with the claims process, so you’ll need to obtain one at some point.
After calling the police, it’s time to wait for help. If you haven’t done so already, turn off your engine and make sure your hazard lights are turned on. You might also use emergency road flares to warn oncoming traffic to slow down.
While you wait for the police to arrive, you should probably exchange insurance details and contact information with the other driver. You will need each other’s full name and contact info, your insurance companies and policy numbers, and your driver’s license and license plate numbers. You should also write down the type, color, and model of both vehicles, as well as the location of the accident. This information will be imperative to your auto insurance claim, and you may also need it in court. For good measure, take detailed photographs of the entire crash site as soon as you can. You should also ask for the names and contact info of any witnesses nearby.
One of the most important rules to follow when you’re talking with the other driver, the police, or passers-by is this: never admit fault. In fact, avoid discussing who’s at fault at all. Your respective insurance companies will likely determine who was at fault for the accident. If you admit to being at fault for the crash, that information will likely be used against you later, and it will be very difficult to make a successful case for yourself then.
When the police arrive, start by identifying the responding officers. Ask for their names and badge numbers and write them down with the other information you accumulated. When the police ask for information you should answer all of their questions, but again, do not admit to being at fault. Remember that anything you say can be recorded and used against you later, so it’s best not to say anything unless you’re answering a direct question or providing basic information.
If you can remember the above instructions, you’ll be more prepared than the vast majority of people when it comes to responding to car accidents. It’s a good idea to write down a list of steps to follow and keep it in your wallet or glove compartment.
The last step in how to proceed after a car accident is to talk with your insurance provider and get your car repaired. If you get the chance, you should call your insurance agent while you’re still on the scene of the accident. That way they can tell you exactly what information they need to process your claim. Your insurance agent can also give you an idea of what to expect from the claims process, such as how long it will take to get your car fixed.
What to do if You’re in a Company Vehicle
While the above steps will apply in just about every car accident regardless of how it happens, if you’re on the job and driving a company vehicle when the accident occurs, things can be more complicated.
If you find yourself in an on-the-job collision, most of the process will be exactly like what we described already. However, you’ll provide the name and contact information of the company you work for, in addition to your own, when you talk to the police and the other driver.
The most complicated part following an on-the-job accident is determining who’s at fault for the collision. Once again, you absolutely should not admit fault at the scene, whether to the police or anyone else. But since the company you work for owns the vehicle, there are now three parties who might be held responsible for the accident: you, the other driver, and the company that owns the vehicle.
The good news is, you won’t be the one who has to worry about automotive repairs. The bad news is, you could still be held responsible for the accident.
When an employee collides with another vehicle while driving their employer’s car, either the employee, the other driver, or the employer will be considered at fault. If the employee or the other driver caused the accident because they were driving carelessly, the person responsible will be considered at fault. However, if damage to the company vehicle resulted in the crash — for example, if the breaks weren’t working correctly — then the company that owns the vehicle will be held responsible for the accident.
Once insurers and law enforcement decide who is to blame, it will be decided who’s insurance provider pays to have the damage fixed. This may be settled in or outside of court, but either way, hopefully, you were driving carefully and won’t have to be involved.
How to Proceed After a Car Accident: Legal Options
Usually knowing how to proceed after a car accident is just a matter of getting your insurance details correct. But other times things become more serious, and you end up in a legal battle with other drivers. Whether you need to seek bailbonds or take another person to court, here we’ll go over your legal options after a car accident.
What to do if You’re Arrested
In the vast majority of cases, getting arrested is not something you should need to worry about after a car accident. But it can happen, usually if a driver is drunk or has outstanding violations. Sometimes a driver will be arrested because they refuse to give the police the necessary information to complete a report of the accident. While you have the right to avoid making statements that might indicate you were at fault — as we’ve said more than once, you should never admit fault — you’re still required to provide basic information to the police as requested after the accident.
It’s important to note that just because one driver gets arrested doesn’t mean they will be held liable for the accident. Insurance companies and law enforcement will still have to determine who was at fault. However, being arrested could contribute to the other party’s case if it comes to court.
If you are placed under arrest after an accident, your best option is to cooperate. Citizens very rarely have the right to resist arrest, and it’s far better to fight it in court later. After the arrest, you should avoid sharing any information before you’ve had the chance to speak to an attorney. The police often try to tease out incriminating information, and anything you say could end up being used against you later, so it’s best not to say anything if possible.
Usually you’ll be entitled to at least one phone call once you arrive at the jail or police station. If you don’t have a lawyer already, you should either call your family or one of the local bail bonds agents so you can get out of jail and start preparing your case. Bear in mind that, aside from calls to your attorney, the police could be listening in on your conversations.
What to do if You’re the Prosecutor
Determining how to proceed after a car accident can be challenging, especially if you feel like you were wronged. If you end up in a serious accident and you believe the other driver was at fault, you can take them to court for a settlement. Keep in mind that this is only a realistic idea if you never admitted fault after the accident. If you did, it will be very difficult to make a case for yourself now.
When you make a case against a driver, their car insurance provider will usually represent them in court. Insurance companies are very careful to avoid being sued and paying out settlements unless they have to, and they can afford the best lawyers to back up their cases. To win your case, you’ll need to find a truly excellent auto accident attorney to represent you in court.
If you were in a serious car accident, you have the right to collect a settlement to cover things like lost wages, past and future medical costs, reduced quality of life, and pain and suffering resulting from the accident. In order to make a successful case, you will need to have taken extensive notes and photographs at the scene.
If you plan to take the other driver to court, you should avoid telling them you are okay after the accident. Even something as simple as reassuring them can come up against your case in court. You should also refuse to speak with the other driver’s insurance company if they try to collect a statement from you. Simply tell them you wish to speak to your lawyer first.
What to do if You’re the Defendant
If you end up in court with a lawsuit against you from the other driver, things may not be as bad as they seem. Even if your opponent has the best auto accident injury lawyers to represent them, if you were properly insured, you shouldn’t have to represent yourself in court or pay a settlement fee. In both ways, your insurance provider will take care of the court case on your behalf.
Once again, the important thing to remember is not to admit fault or say you’re okay at the time of the accident. You don’t want to give the other driver any reason to assume you were to blame for the accident, or that you got out unscathed.
If you weren’t fully insured at the time of the accident, you can still make a case for yourself in court. Just make sure you gather as much evidence from the scene as possible and get the best lawyer you can find to represent your case.
Knowing how to proceed after a car accident is hard, especially if you’ve never dealt with lawyers or significant auto repairs before. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand how to proceed after a car accident, so you’ll be better prepared if it should happen.