Most people will experience a car accident at some point in their lives, and even if it’s just a simple fender bender, the stress of the experience can affect whether or not you conduct these best practices that will help you receive the most favorable outcome, even if the accident is determined to be your fault.
While you’re probably reading these instructions on your phone or computer, we recommend printing out this page and keeping it in your car with your insurance information. You never know what the outcome of an accident may be, and it could occur in an area with no cell phone coverage, or the accident could result in the destruction of your phone. You’ll be happy to have a physical copy of these procedures with you if that happens!
- Check for injuries. Immediately after an accident, you want to make sure that you don’t have any severe injuries that could be exacerbated by movements, such as a broken leg or serious neck injuries. If you do, stay put and wait for medical attention.
- Safety first. If you can safely move, make sure that traffic is clear before you exit your vehicle. You should only move your vehicle if it or any others involved are a direct threat to the safety of other traffic, otherwise, leave it where it is until the police arrive. The position of the vehicles after an accident may be important in determining later determining who was at fault. Deploy flares, flashers, or reflectors around the crash if available to alert oncoming drivers to stay clear.
- Call 911. Make the police and medical services (if needed) aware of what has happened. Even if nobody is injured, it’s best to alert the police so that they can manage traffic and create a report. That report will be the official account of the accident and will be important for dealing with insurance.
- Secure witnesses. Get the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of any and all witnesses that saw the accident. It can mean the difference between a quick insurance payout and a drawn-out he-said-she-said situation. Maryland requires drivers involved in an accident to exchange information, and provides a form that you can print copies of to use in the event of an accident.
- Exchange information. Get the name, address, phone number, email address, and insurance information of anyone that was involved in the accident. People often wish to avoid going through insurance – especially for minor accidents – to keep their rates from increasing. Get their info anyway. Simple accidents can often result in more expensive damage than may be immediately apparent, and you’ll be glad you got their insurance information if that happens.
- Take pictures. Take as many pictures as you can of the accident from every angle. Get close up and far away. Make sure to get wide shots of the area surrounding the accident and include any stop lights, stop signs, or other traffic signs that will help tell the story of how the accident occurred later. There is no such thing as too much documentation, so get as many shots as you can.
- Be civil, but silent. If there are other people involved in the accident, you’re going to need to speak with them. Be friendly and civil, but do not offer any more information than is necessary, and definitely do not admit fault. In fact, avoid discussing the details of the accident as much as possible. Apologizing, admitting you couldn’t see someone, or that you were on your phone are all things that can result in a negative outcome should the case eventually go to court. Minimize the opportunity that you’ll say something you shouldn’t.
- Contact your insurance. Let them know the details of the accident as soon as possible so they can begin work on filing a claim. The sooner they know what happened, the sooner they can begin working for you. Don’t speak to any other insurance companies. It’s possible that the insurance companies of any other drivers may wish to speak to you and get a recorded statement. Do not give them one.
- Contact a lawyer. For serious cases, such as accidents that result in serious personal injury, you should seek the counsel of an attorney. If this applies to you, please contact us today for a free consultation.
If you’ve been in a car accident, Albers & Associates can help. With offices in Baltimore, Columbia, Towson, Northern Virginia, Westminster, and Dundalk, we’re here to help you with any questions you may have. Contact us, or call our experts at Albers & Associates at (443) 543-8517 to learn how we can aid you.