In moments of intense stress, humans tend to make decisions based on previous knowledge rather than their current surroundings. It can be hard to analyze and interpret all the information coming at you in a short amount of time after a traumatic event. That’s why, for example, you want to practice your fire evacuation routes with your children so that they act out of instinct in the moment.
Having a carefully thought-out action plan in place in the event that you get in the car crash is smart. Hopefully, you will never need to use it. However, if you do wind up in a crash caused by another driver, you will have the information in your mind necessary to protect yourself and your right to compensation because of the collision.
Protect yourself by documenting the crash carefully
One of the most important steps you can take after a car crash will involve gathering documentation of the scene of the accident. Especially if you get into a crash on a freeway or in a location where you need to move your vehicles to allow traffic to bypass the scene of the collision, you definitely need to record the accident before those vehicles move.
Taking multiple photos or videos from several different angles around your vehicle and the other vehicle involved is important. Getting close up shots of your injuries and damage to your vehicle, as well as to surrounding infrastructure and license plates or insurance documents, is also important. All of those details can give investigators a better image of the aftermath of the crash and help them track down witnesses if necessary.
Be careful about what you say and what you don’t say after a crash
While your sense of politeness may tell you that apologizing is the right thing to do after a crash, doing so could have implications for your rights later on. The other driver, police, insurance companies and even the courts might view an apology as an admission of at least partial responsibility. Instead of apologizing, you can ask the other driver if they are okay or if they require your assistance in any safety-critical matters, like getting other people out of their vehicle.
When the police get there, you may not want to seem like a bully. You might assume that the officers will realize the other driver was on their phone or under the influence. If you don’t say something, they may not figure that out. If you suspect impairment, that the other driver fell asleep at the wheel or that they were distracted, don’t keep those concerns to yourself. Plainly state them to the officer involved so that they can properly investigate.
As a final note, the more serious the crash and the damages it causes, the more beneficial getting help will be for you as the victim. An attorney can help you not only navigate the difficult process of interacting with insurance companies but can also assist with the civil process of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.