Even more than speeding tickets or run-ins with the law, car accidents generally top drivers’ lists for the least desirable occurrence behind the wheel. Statistics indicate, however, that for those who spend significant amounts of time in their vehicles, accidents are almost inevitable. With this in mind, it’s important to remember not to do a few things that may make a bad situation even worse. Barring cases of serious injuries or death, accidents are hardly the end of the world.
Stay cool and stay put
Fight the immediate impulse to get upset over the accident. Assuming no one is hurt, try to keep at the forefront of your mind your gratitude for the health of all the parties involved. When the accident is clearly another driver’s fault, resist the urge to blow up at him or her, reminding yourself that the damage cannot be undone immediately, no matter how good it might feel to give them a piece of your mind.
To the extent that caustic behavior might prevent you from gathering critical postaccident details and information, you may also be shooting yourself in the foot by blowing off steam at this point. In addition, calling the authorities and accurately recording all the drivers’ contact and insurance information may be the most important aspect of any postaccident protocol, as the evidence and information related to the accident is never fresher than at this point. Behaving like a hothead when the police are taking reports and trying to secure the accident area does not benefit you.
While it’s important to express concern and be sympathetic to all the parties’ health and well-being, apologizing or making any admissions immediately after the accident — especially to or in front of the police — is ill-advised. Your statements after the accident are factored into any insurance claims and lawsuits that grow out of it. Resist the urge to take responsibility for an event that in reality may not have been your fault.
Don’t forget to seek legal representation
Most accidents that result in significant property damage and injuries involve complicated legal issues that are best assessed by an auto accident attorney who can make critical determinations regarding causation and damages. Don’t delay getting the advice of legal counsel, who can begin to help you sort out your plan of action.