What Should I Avoid Doing after a Car Accident?
In the confusion following a car accident, drivers involved are often not thinking clearly. However, reactions in these situations are important and can have long-term consequences. Therefore, despite the chaos, drivers need to take a breath and if in a position to do so, take care of what needs to be done, as quickly as possible. This includes pulling over to the side of the road to get out of traffic if it is possible to do so; exchanging insurance information, even if the accident is a fender-bender; and dialing 911 for help for any injured parties and to help get any severely damaged vehicles off the road.
But just as importantly in the tense moments following an accident are the things drivers should not do, such as the following:
Do not leave the scene. The worst reaction to a car accident is to panic and drive away, even if it is just a bumper-to-bumper tap. Leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor in minor accidents, but in cases in which there was injury or death, it is punishable by jail time. It also could mean the driver is leaving an injured or dying person on their own.
Do not apologize to the other drivers or admit guilt. This is also common. It is human nature for people to get out of their cars to speak to the other drivers and start with an apology in these circumstances to be polite. It is also not advisable.
Do not forego calling the police. Many drivers fear having law enforcement involved, but police will be able to document what happened in the accident, which may well build a case for the victim. Police also provide crash reports that list all the critical information of the accident, including specifics.
Not calling the police also looks as if the driver is avoiding responsibility, which looks bad to the insurance company and/or the court.
Do not skip going to the doctor. Being treated by a doctor will provide documentation of personal injury for the insurance companies and/or court, to ensure adequate payment for the health care needed. Documented injuries may help the victim avoid a court case, as the at-fault driver may be willing to come up with a settlement agreement to cover the costs of care.
Do not just pay the fine for a traffic ticket from the accident. If a driver is handed a traffic ticket from police responding to the accident, fighting the ticket is important. However, this often has to be done fairly quickly. and the time frame for drivers who want to fight the charge is written on the ticket. This again falls into the area of assuming guilt. It will make it harder to win the case in court if the fine is paid by the driver.
Do not accept the insurance company settlement. Accident victims may be far better compensated with the help of a lawyer, either in a settlement deal or in the courtroom. The best practice here is to get an opinion from a car accident lawyer before taking a settlement check from the insurance company.
Do not skip parts of the story because it looks bad. Because the lawyer represents their client, they need all the information. This will build a better case for whatever might happen in court, because the good and the bad parts of the story will come up.
Do not wait too long to file the claim. Drivers in Washington, DC, and Prince George’s County communities also have to consider the statute of limitations. In DC and Maryland, the deadline for filing a personal injury claim is three years.
DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Fight for Accident Victims
If you were involved in a car accident, you can reach out to the DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our team investigates and determines liability in car accidents every day. We are committed to providing individualized attention to every client that we represent. Call us at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington, DC, we work with car accident victims in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, and Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.