What to Do After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault
A car accident can happen to any driver. Even drivers who are careful, attentive, and following the rules of the road can get into an accident.
Often, the fault of others on the road can involve the most innocent drivers in an accident.
As the innocent driver, you should understand what to do after a car accident that’s not your fault.
Below are the steps you should take when you are in an accident that is not your fault.
You should take steps to make sure you are safe, even if the accident is not your fault. To ensure that you and your passengers are safe, you should:
- Move your vehicle to safety and out of the flow of traffic,
- Turn on your car’s hazard lights, and
- Check for your injuries and injuries of passengers.
Move your vehicle out of traffic, but do not drive away from the scene. If the other driver flees, stay on the scene and continue to the rest of the steps below.
When you are not in the flow of traffic, stay in your car and turn on your hazard lights. Call 911 if you, your passengers, or another driver is injured.
Call the Police
If no one has injuries that need emergency medical care, call the police. Whether the accident was minor or there is considerable damage to your vehicle, call the police.
For the driver not at fault, there are several benefits to calling the police to the scene.
The police report will become part of your insurance claim. The report will include information relevant to your insurance claim. Important information includes where and when the crash happened, the drivers involved, and each driver’s account of the crash.
Sometimes, an insurance company will require that you submit a police report to make a claim. In most cases, a police report is a reliable source of information to bolster your claim with the insurance company. Either way, a police record that you were not at fault is beneficial to your insurance claim.
Gather Information and Evidence
You should first trade information with the other drivers involved in the collision.
The driver who is at fault handles reporting the accident to their insurance company. However, you should not assume that they will do so. The other driver’s insurance information is important if you want to recover for things like medical bills and car repairs.
Gather information from the at-fault driver, including:
- Name, address, and phone number;
- Insurance company contact information;
- Insurance policy number;
- The driver’s license number; and
- Their car’s license plate number.
Document the scene by taking pictures of the vehicle damage and the surrounding area. If possible, ask eyewitnesses for their names, contact information, and their immediate memory of the events.
Be Mindful of Your Statements to Others
Pay attention to the statements you make to other drivers. You should avoid speaking with the other drivers. Decide if you or someone else needs emergency medical care. However, be careful not to admit responsibility. This includes statements that an adjuster could interpret as admitting or implying fault.
Do not offer to pay for property damage or injuries and do not discuss fault. Statements you should avoid making include statements like:
- “I’m sorry,”
- “I didn’t see you,” and
- “I am perfectly fine.”
The other driver will likely repeat these statements to their insurance company. These statements could supply the insurance company grounds to dispute their insured’s fault and could delay or diminish your compensation claim.
Contact Your Own Insurance Company
Even when you are not at fault, it is prudent to contact your insurance company. In most cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will compensate you for your injuries and property damage.
In other cases, your claim will involve your insurance company. For example, the other party’s insurance may later claim that you were at fault.
In this situation, your insurance company will need your account of the accident and supporting evidence to challenge the other insurer’s denial of liability.
Seek Medical Treatment
You should see a doctor after a car accident, even if you do not think you were injured. Injuries are often not apparent until at least several hours after the accident. If you have symptoms such as confusion, tingling in your arms or legs, or unconsciousness, call 911 as your injuries may be severe.
If you experience stiffness, muscle soreness, neck pain, or back pain one to several days after the accident, consult a doctor. You may have whiplash or spinal injuries that can require medical attention.
Document your symptoms in a record or journal. When you see a doctor, give your health care professionals an honest description of your experience. Insurance companies may accuse you of exaggerating or lying about your injuries. This can delay your compensation and create more issues in resolving your claim. If the insurance company gives you a hard time, having medical records will support your injury claim.
Have an Attorney Evaluate Your Claim
You should discuss your accident with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The personal injury lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk can help you understand what to do after a car accident that’s not your fault.
Contact an attorney before you speak with an insurance adjuster. Insurance adjusters may seem friendly and cooperative. However, remember that the adjusters work for the insurance company, not for you. It is in the insurance company’s best interest to avoid paying your claim.
The insurance company will often record your statements to use against you later. Adjusters may also ask you to sign medical releases or liability waivers. Signing these documents could mean that you accept a settlement below what you deserve.
Speak with an attorney first to make sure you do not diminish or destroy your chance at a fair settlement.
Contact a Respected Personal Injury Attorney at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk
At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we have over 30 years of experience representing personal injury victims.
We work hard to pursue the maximum compensation for our clients. Our lawyers offer vigorous representation to make sure that your rights are protected.
Contact our legal team today for a free case consultation.