Bright lights flashing. Loud voices. Information exchanges. Even a simple car accident can turn into a major headache, as it often involves dealing with injuries, insurance companies, lawyers, and other parties who remember events differently. Whether you’re the offender or the innocent party, there are certain steps one should always take immediately after an accident.
Here are 10 things to do after a car accident:
- Make sure everyone is OK. Before concerning yourself with vehicle damage and exchanging insurance information, make sure that all parties in the accident are OK. Always call the police.
- Do not apologize. Yes, politeness is an admirable trait, but in this situation, a simple “I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention,” can be seen as an admission of liability.
- Start talking. To witnesses, that is. Get all the relevant contact information of any bystanders that may have seen the accident.
- Call your insurance company. Report the incident to your insurance company, even if you are completely at fault. Also, keep track of the time and money spent pursuing your claim.
- Take pictures. Having proof of the damage to the car will help for insurance purposes and serve as evidence, if there is a dispute down the line. Always keep a disposable camera in your glove compartment for these situations.
- Take notes. Taking pictures and detailing the accident and the nature of your injuries as soon as possible can serve to expedite the process.
- Get a property damage figure from your insurance company. This valuation will serve as the amount you can recover or to replace your car. If you are not happy with the figure from your insurance company, seek outside quotes.
- Be careful who you talk to. If the other party’s insurance company contacts you, your best response is to contact your insurance company or attorney. Why? Because they are better equipped to handle the situation.
- Don’t automatically accept the first estimate or offer you get. Jumping the gun on the settlement can be a costly mistake.
- Get an attorney. If there is a dispute with your insurance company, or the seemingly simple car accident suddenly turns complicated, seeking legal counsel is your best bet.
Jeronimo Valdez is an experienced business trial lawyer and Founder & Managing Partner of Valdez│Washington LLP, where he represents clients throughout the country in a broad range of matters including life-altering personal injury, complex contract disputes, non-compete litigation, complex business torts, and other business-related problems. He has successfully tried numerous cases to verdict, recently winning a week-long jury trial in a business dispute resulting in a unanimous defense verdict for his client and a multi-million dollar award for his side. As a result of his many successes, he has been selected by Texas Monthly Magazine as a Texas Super Lawyer “Rising Star,” which is a designation reserved for the top up-and-coming Texas attorneys who are 40 or younger (less than 2.5% of Texas Lawyers are selected). He was also selected by the National Trial Lawyers Association as one of the top 40 lawyers in Texas. Additionally, Jeronimo has served as General Counsel of an international company and currently serves as outside general counsel to leading businesses and local chambers of commerce and was awarded the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber’s prestigious 2010 Quality & Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award.