Being involved in a car accident is one of the most traumatic experiences there is. Even if you are not seriously injured in the crash, you will no doubt be seriously shaken up.
Given the emotional intensity of the situation, it is easy to react out of fear and anger, but letting your emotions run away with you could have serious consequences down the line. Saying or doing the wrong things in the immediate aftermath of a car crash could leave you on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in property damage and medical expenses, and if that happens you will find yourself regretting the rashness of your decisions.
Here are nine things you should never do if you are involved in an automobile accident.
1. Leave the scene - Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious criminal offense, one that could leave you behind bars. If you flee the scene of the crash, the damage to your car could be the least of your worries.
2. Chase down a fleeing driver - If you are on the other side of a hit and run driver, you might be tempted to hit the gas and give chase, but that could be a serious, and potentially deadly, mistake. The driver who hit you could have a criminal past, and they will definitely not react well to your pursuit. If the other driver leaves the scene, try to read the receding license plate number (if you can't catch the number, try to at least note the car's color, make and perhaps model), then pick up the phone and call the police.
3. Admit blame - Even if you think the accident was your fault, now is not the time to assign blame. There will be plenty of time to assess who was at fault later, so in the meantime stay mum and be polite without saying the accident was your fault, or the fault of the other driver.
4. Threaten the other driver - It is easy to be angry after a car crash, especially if you think the other driver was at fault. But threatening the other driver will get you nowhere, and it could provoke a violent reaction. It may be difficult, but try to stay calm and polite as you exchange insurance information.
5. Inflate the repair estimate - When you are involved in a crash, your goal is to get your car back on the road as fast as possible, and that will likely involve getting a number of repair estimates. Expecting your car to be fixed is fair, but inflating those repair estimates is not. Inflating the cost of repair to get more money is insurance fraud, a crime that carries some serious financial penalties and potential jail time.
6. Ignore your potential injuries - Even if you feel fine, you should not assume that you did not sustain any injuries in the crash. Some car crash injuries, including chronic neck and back pain, can take time to manifest, so it is a good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible.
7. Assuming your car is not damaged - If you are involved in a low speed crash, you may not see any damage to your vehicle, but that does not mean your car is fine. Some structural damage may not be visible to the naked eye, and it is a good idea to have a body shop evaluate the vehicle anyway. You should be sure to get the other driver's insurance information even if you think no damage has been done.
8. Talk to the company that insures the other driver - When you are involved in a car crash, the other driver's insurance company may try to contact you, but you should politely decline their inquiries. Insurance companies will typically try to minimize damages and injuries, and anything you say could be used against you in a future claim or lawsuit. You should talk to your own insurance representative as soon as possible, but interacting with the other driver's representative is a big mistake.
9. Not hire an attorney if you need one - If you are seriously injured in a car crash, not hiring an attorney could be the biggest mistake of all. By hiring an attorney right away, you can preserve your right to sue, so you can get the most for your injuries and recover from any property damage.
Hopefully you will never be involved in a car crash. If good fortune smiles upon you, those miles will roll by smoothly, with nothing more serious than the occasional close call. But if you are involved in a car accident, knowing what to do, and not do, could make all the difference in the world. Avoiding the nine actions listed above can save you a world of trouble, so you can keep your wheels rolling and your life moving forward.
The content on this site is for informational purposes only and nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice.