Car Accidents. No matter how many defensive driving classes you’ve taken, or safe driver perks you’ve received from your insurance company, statistically speaking, being involved in a car accident is not a matter of if, but when. Knowing what to do and, more importantly, what not to do when you are involved in an accident can save you a lot of grief, regret, and money! Here are five mistakes you should avoid after a car accident:
- Not Moving Out of the Flow of Traffic — Unless you or your car are physically unable to move, it is important to get out of the way of other cars to prevent further accidents. If there is a parking lot or gas station close by, pull in there to assess the damage. Otherwise, pull as far over onto the shoulder of the road as possible before getting out of your vehicle.
- Not Calling the Authorities — Even if both you and the other driver feel there is no need for police, it is still best to have law enforcement issue an official report on the accident. There is always a chance someone will have a change of heart and decide to contact the insurance company or a lawyer. Without a police report, it becomes a case of he said, she said.
- Apologizing or Admitting Guilt — No matter how well you were raised, this is one instance where saying your sorry is the wrong thing to do. Even if you think you are blameworthy, remember that fault in an accident is a very technical thing and varies from place to place. You could be taking the liability (and the financial burden) for something that is not your responsibility. Let the insurance companies and lawyers handle the finger-pointing and apologies!
- Not Properly Documenting the Accident — Taking pictures of both cars, getting the other driver’s contact and insurance information, collecting the contact information of any witnesses, and writing down anything else you think might be important is always a good idea. Don’t rely on the authorities or your memory to do this. It never hurts to have additional data for your lawyer to review.
- Letting Your Insurance Company Handle It — It may seem counterintuitive since you pay them to be there if you are ever in an accident, but your insurance company is not interested in what is best for you. They are interested in what saves their company the most money! Before you speak to your insurance company, make sure that you have secured the services of a reputable law firm with experience handling car accidents.
Understanding how to navigate after a car accident will go a long way toward ensuring that you save yourself time, money, and a lot of frustration. Make sure that you know what to do beforehand so that you are not caught off guard when the unthinkable happens.