How to Legally Protect Yourself After a Car Accident

Friday, April 28th, 2017 by Law Offices of Joohan Song

How to Legally Protect Yourself After a Car Accident

Every American driver should know how to legally protect herself after a car accident. Whether at fault or not, ignoring the tips you are about to read can result in you having to pay higher damages, which can also threaten your home and business. Ignoring these tips can also result in you not receiving the compensation you deserve from being the victim of a car accident. The time to educate yourself on these facts is right now so that if you ever find yourself involved in an accident, you will know exactly how to proceed.


Always Stop!

Whether you’ve hit a street sign, a parked car, a moving car or a person, it is imperative that you immediately stop your vehicle and assess what just happened. Contact the local law enforcement agency and calmly state that you’ve been in an accident and would like an officer to be dispatched to the scene. If a person is injured, immediately call 9-1-1 to request assistance. Administer basic first aid, if necessary, but do not move the person unless they are in imminent danger of further injury, such as an explosion or fire.


Parked Car Accidents or Other Property Damage

Should you happen to hit a parked car, a fence or some other non-moving object, the same rules apply in terms of stopping. Leave a detailed note describing the accident in a place where it will be seen by the owner, but where it is not likely to be blown away by wind or removed by anyone else. In addition to a note, you must also contact the local law enforcement agency to give full details on the accident.


Take Note

If you were involved in a vehicle collision, exchange names and driver license information with the other driver. Do not simply recite your license number to the other person, but physically show it to them and politely ask them to show you theirs. From their license, you’ll want to write down as much information as possible, which includes their name, address, driver license number and date of birth.


Next, exchange registration information by asking, once again, to see their vehicle registration paperwork and showing them yours. From the registration printout, write down the registered owner’s name (if different from the driver’s), as well as the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and its make, model, year and color.


You should also exchange insurance cards or printouts and note the insurance company’s name, contact information and the policy number.


Other Parties

If there were passengers in the other car, politely ask for their names and contact information. Ditto for any witnesses who may have observed the accident. In fact, ask witnesses to remain at the scene until the police or highway patrol arrive in order that they may be questioned about the accident. If a witness refuses to stay or will not provide any information, do not argue with them or try to force them to stay. If they are driving their own car, simply record the person’s license plate number (take a picture if you can) and give that information to law enforcement officers when they arrive.


Dealing With the Police or Highway Patrol

Explain the facts of the car accident to the police when they arrive. Do not volunteer any additional information and do not answer any questions about who caused the accident at that time. Be respectful to officers, but only supply them with relevant facts. This is important to remember because, even if you honestly believe that you are responsible, there may be other factors involved in the case, which may lead to an accident not being entirely your fault– or not being your fault at all– but anything that you confess to police officers during this initial investigation may be used against you later.


Be cooperative with law enforcement by answering questions with straightforward facts, but do NOT sign anything beyond a traffic citation (which is not an admission of guilt). If you feel pressed to accept blame by anyone at the scene, simply and respectfully decline to answer. Do so by stating that you wish to speak to your attorney and insurance company first.


Always ask for and write down the name and badge number of every officer at the scene. Many carry business cards that contain this information that you may also ask for. Finally, ask for a copy of the report recorded at the scene.


More Ways to Legally Protect Yourself After a Car Accident

As soon as possible, write down everything you remember about the times just before and during the accident. Draw a diagram for yourself with all of the details you can recall. Pay attention to minor details, such as the flow of traffic, the time of day and weather conditions.


If possible, take several photos of the scene and anything that may count as evidence of the accident later. For example, anything which may have obstructed you or the other driver’s view, tire marks on the ground, damaged pavement and so forth.


If you receive a ticket after a car accident, speak to an attorney before paying the fine or appearing in court as doing so may lead to problems with your accident case. If you are being sued, information and activity involving your ticket can lead to you losing your case and being responsible for damages (or for more damages than expected).


Speak to an Attorney

You may think that you can handle yourself in a car accident case without hiring professional legal representation. Doing so is not advisable as there may be subtle nuances in a car accident case, which may result in hefty fines, lawsuits and may even pose a threat to your home and other assets. If you are truly interested in legally protecting yourself after a car accident, contacting an attorney within 24 hours of the accident is highly advised.

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