It’s a situation almost every motorist will face at least once: you’ve been involved in a car accident.
Luckily, no one has been injured. However, the accident has left both your car and the other party’s car damaged — in fact, both vehicles are likely to need thousands of dollars in repairs before they’re back in acceptable condition.
As a motorist, what should you do in this situation? As a Costa Mesa auto accident lawyer’s office, we deal with hundreds of cases every year involving motorists that collide with other vehicles without causing any injuries.
As with everything in life, the best course of action can depend based on the specific type of situation you find yourself in. However, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself in the event of an accident, particularly from a legal perspective.
We’ve outlined these six tips below. For more information, or if you’re reading this directly after an accident and need advice, you can contact us on 1-800-410-4085 or complete our free case evaluation form online.
Before anything else, seek help for injured people
Before you do anything else, including working out who is to blame for the collision, it’s vital to check that no one has been injured in the accident.
If anyone has been hurt during the crash — either in your car or the other person’s vehicle — make sure you contact emergency services. Health and wellbeing is always the top priority in any accident situation, and it’s important that injured people are treated and cared for.
Avoid apologizing for the accident
This might sound ridiculous, but it’s generally best not to apologize to the other motorist after a car accident. The reason for this is simple: while apologizing might be great for easing tension, there’s a risk it could be misconstrued as an admission of guilt.
From an insurance perspective, this can be used against you to reduce the amount you receive in compensation after an accident.
Instead, focus on making sure everyone is okay after the accident. If your car is damaged, take a moment to assess the damage. If your passengers are shaken or concerned, talk to them to make sure they’re alright and free of injuries.
Use your smartphone to record evidence
Your smartphone is a valuable tool in the event of an accident, especially if it has a high-quality camera. Use it to your advantage by capturing photographic evidence of the scene, from your vehicle’s damage to skid marks, traffic lights, stop signs and other traffic features.
It’s also important to take photos of any injuries you have, no matter how minor. Bruises, cuts and other physical injuries can also play a major role in determining the outcome of your claim after an accident.
This evidence can be valuable in helping you build a strong case for an insurance claim in the event that you weren’t responsible for the accident.
Contact the police after the accident
Even if no one was injured in the accident, it’s important to contact the police if the crash results in more than minor damage. This gives both you, the other party and the police a clear record of the outcome of the accident, as well as the damage that occurred to either vehicle.
In the event that you need to make an insurance claim, a police report can simplify the process and help you create a stronger case. The presence of a police officer also reduces the risk of a difficult or violent reaction from the other driver — a major risk in some accident situations.
Call an auto accident attorney when possible
Although many minor accidents can be resolved without legal action, others can require some amount of legal process. This is particularly common if your car or motorcycle accident led to significant damage to either party’s vehicle, or resulted in injuries.
As one of the top Costa Mesa auto accident law firms, we’ve assisted hundreds of motorists in successfully navigating the complex legal environment that can emerge after a car, truck, bike or motorcycle accident.