What to do after a car crash isn’t always obvious. People sometimes assume that fault and rights are clear-cut, but there is a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to a crash.
The things you say and do while dealing with the other driver, witnesses and law enforcement officers at the scene of the crash can directly impact your rights and the outcome of the official investigation. If you know the mistakes that people tend to make after a car wreck, you can protect yourself if you ever get into a crash caused by another driver.
Don’t drive off from the scene of the accident
You probably already know that leaving the scene of a crash is a crime in and of itself. You have an obligation to stay and offer aid to the other driver if they have injuries and need help. You also need to interact with police officers so that they can complete a report about the collision.
Driving off can make it seem more likely that you were the person who caused the crash and can result in legal consequences. The only potential excuse for doing so after a collision would involve a scenario where your vehicle can still safely drive and another occupant of the vehicle needs immediate medical attention.
If you can reach a hospital more quickly than an ambulance can get to the scene of the crash, you may have a justification for leaving. Otherwise, you should call for emergency help and wait for police and medical assistance to arrive.
Don’t apologize or otherwise imply you were at fault
Apologizing is second nature to some people, especially if they know their actions will inconvenience another person. Apologizing after a crash can imply to the other driver, police officers and anyone else present that you think you are responsible for the collision.
Other things that you say, such as, “I can’t believe I just did that,” may also imply that you were at fault and not the other driver. It is okay to check with the other driver and exchange information with them, but you need to avoid apologizing or saying anything that implicates you.
Don’t accept an insurance settlement or make a statement without help
The more expensive the crash for you and your family, the greater the motivation for the insurance company to settle the claim for less than your total expenses.
Before you accept a settlement offer, cash a check from the insurance company or even agree to sit down to make a recorded statement about the crash, it may be in your best interest to first discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney. Their advice and guidance can help you determine what rights you have, how appropriate a settlement offer is and which mistakes and statements might impact your right to compensation.