Being involved in a car accident is a stressful ordeal, no matter who or what might have caused the crash. There are medical concerns, insurance, legal issues and loads of admin ahead of you.
However, when you think that the accident might have been your fault, or if you know the accident was your fault, it adds another layer of stress, guilt and uncertainty. What will happen and how do you handle the situation?
This article will cover some of the major details you’ll need to think about and the first and most important steps to take right after the incident.
Stop and Call the Police
First of all – do not drive away! No matter how frightened you feel, it’s crucial that no matter how bad the accident was, you pull over, stop your car and call the police. Driving away could spell trouble for you in the legal department, especially if you do turn out to be at fault.
Contacting the authorities to the scene is important so that the accident can be reported.
Keep Your Cool
While you’re there, it’s important to try to calm down if you feel overwhelmed by the situation. Your interactions with other involved parties are crucial here as they will have implications for your legal case later down the line.
Remain calm and be polite and civil, but refrain from apologising, discussing how the accident occurred, whose fault it was, etc. Try not to get angry or upset, and try to remain as neutral as possible while you wait for the police to arrive. Anything you say in these moments could be used against you in a legal case, and even a simple apology could be understood as admitting fault.
Check For Injuries
Of course, your top priority should be your health and the health of other involved parties. If the accident was serious, there might be injuries or even fatalities, so the most important thing to do is see if anyone needs emergency assistance.
If there are injuries – even minor ones – contact an ambulance immediately to come along with the police. If nothing serious has occurred, you can skip this step but be sure to seek out a medical check as soon as you possibly can, just to be extra cautious.
Contact an Attorney
It’s a good idea to be in touch with a lawyer as soon as you can. They will be able to help you out with what you can and cannot (or should and should not) say to other parties and the police too.
When there are injuries involved, you’ll need a car accident injury lawyer to help you deal with the legal implications of the crash – regardless of who you think caused it. A good, reputable and trustworthy lawyer is the most important aid you’ll need if you are at fault and need your case to be defended.
Document the Accident
While you’re still at the scene, it’s a good idea to document the accident. Record the names and contact details of everyone involved, take down registration numbers, details of the cars, details of any damage caused to the vehicles, the location of the accident and take photographs of anything relevant.
You might also want to take down the names and details of any willing witnesses who might be able to help defend your case.
Call Your Insurance
A more tedious task to deal with will be to contact your insurance company. Check in with your attorney beforehand to find out how to handle this element and understand what to tell the insurers.
Keep in mind that a major crash could affect your insurance rates, and if you are found to be at fault, damages to the other person will need to be paid out by your insurance company. In these cases, having good car insurance with comprehensive cover is essential, otherwise, you might find yourself in financial trouble.
Visit a Medical Practitioner
If you weren’t checked out at the scene, make a point to stop by your doctor and get a general check. They’ll need to assess you (and your head in particular) for a concussion or any other injuries you might not have noticed right away.
Remember that your mental health is just as important here. Many people suffer from some level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a major car accident and it’s totally normal to struggle. Reach out to a professional if you find yourself to be struggling after the crash.
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