Been in an Accident? Avoid These Common Mistakes at the Crash Scene and Afterwards

Even if you are regularly practicing your safe driving habits, getting on the road always comes with risks. You should be prepared to deal with an accident when it happens, especially when you’re driving the congested tangle of roads in and around the Inland Empire area.

What NOT to Do at the Scene of an Accident

While you may have read a few tips from us about what to do after an accident, there are also some things that you should learn NOT to do. Many of these surprisingly common actions could potentially harm you or damage your personal injury case later:

  • Don’t drive away without stopping. Even if the accident isn’t your fault, it will be considered a hit-and-run and can land you severe penalties, or even jail time. If the other driver doesn’t stop, call 9-1-1 as soon as you can safely do so.

  • An Angry Driver Yelling at Another Driver After a CrashDon’t lose your temper. You’re probably frightened and possibly even angry at the other driver, but keep your cool! Remember, anything that you say or do at this point could come back to haunt your legal case later. Calmly and politely collect personal and insurance information from the other driver, then keep your distance. Remember that the other driver is probably just as scared or angry as you are, too, and it may be up to you to keep the situation from getting out of hand.

  • Don’t forget to get help. If you or someone else is injured, call 9-1-1 right away. Not only is it the law to report any injury-accident to the police, life and safety always come first. Even if it’s only a minor collision, a police report is a very useful document, so don’t be afraid to call them.

  • Don’t admit fault. It’s sad but true that even something as simple as an apology could be construed as an admission of fault by an insurance company. Keep your interactions with the other driver brief, polite, and to the point. After you finish exchanging information, return to a safe space such as in your vehicle or off the side of the road. Keep chatter to a minimum. If possible, stay far enough away from the other driver that he or she can’t eavesdrop on you.

  • Don’t forget to document everything. If you have a camera, or your phone has one built in, take pictures of the scene, as long as it’s safe to do so. Be sure to capture as much of the accident as possible, including nearby street signs, skid marks, license plates, vehicle damage, and even the occupants of the other vehicle. Be sure not to endanger yourself while doing so.

  • Don’t stay in traffic. Whether you’re inspecting your vehicle or exchanging personal information with the other driver, do not stand in the road, and be mindful of nearby traffic at all times. Just one inattentive driver can turn an already bad day into a tragic one in the blink of an eye. If it’s just a minor accident, you can go ahead and move your vehicle out of traffic, too, as long as you can do so safely and it won’t cause further injury or damage.

Things to Avoid After You Get Home

You’ve made it through your accident, and you’re either recovering in the hospital or back home safe. That doesn’t mean that you’re free and clear, though. You still have to deal with all of the stress and paperwork of a claims process and possible legal action, so there are a few more things to avoid during the aftermath of a crash:

  • Don’t give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance. It’s generally not required by law, and anything that you say they will likely attempt to use to minimize your potential compensation. Don’t let them pressure you! Refer them either to your insurance company or your attorney, and then let your insurer or attorney know that you received the call.

  • Don’t give up your rights by agreeing to a settlement right away. Some injuries can take day, weeks, or even months to show themselves. Wait until you’ve been medically evaluated and are sure that you’ll get fair compensation. When in doubt, speak to an attorney.

Steinberg Injury Lawyers has over 34 years of experience handling car accident injury cases throughout the Inland Empire. We know the tricks that insurance companies use to prevent you from getting the compensation that you deserve when you’ve been in an accident, and we’re here to help you when you need us. Call us anytime for a free case evaluation 800-939-6385, or use our online contact form.

 

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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