Crunch! Car accidents can happen so fast!
Someone on a cell phone decides to make a sudden lane change without checking their blind spot and sideswipes you.
Some guy late for work blows through a red light and t-bones you.
A selfish drunk decides to drive home instead of calling a cab, drifts over the center line, and crashes into you at 45 miles per hour (thank God for airbags and seat belts!).
While you might want to phone a good Salt Lake car accident lawyer as soon as possible, there are a number of actions you should take care of before this step.
Don’t let the heat of the moment get the better of you – do the following things after getting in a car accident and you’ll maximize your chance of a good outcome.
1) Stay at the scene until police say you can go
If there is any element of any personal fault, you might be tempted to drive away to avoid having to deal with the legal system.
Even if you know you are not at fault, your fight-or-flight mechanism might kick in, leading to an intense urge to get away from the situation.
Never do this. If you leave the scene of an accident before law enforcement arrives, you may be viewed as a hit-and-runner in the eyes of the law.
Even if you were not at fault, you may face charges that could end with you serving jail time, and/or you could be on the hook for crippling fines.
2) Check for injuries
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, insurance and legal concerns should be secondary to the welfare of your passengers and those in the other vehicle.
Somebody could have suffered a life threatening injury. If this is the case, call 911 immediately.
Don’t move casualties unless their life is in immediate danger (e.g. burning car), and only administer first aid if the victim consents (unconscious victims in immediate danger of dying are understood to be giving implied consent in most jurisdictions).
3) Exchange insurance information
Once it has been established that everyone is okay (or after injuries have been dealt with), the next legal responsibility you and the other party have is to give each other information on each other’s insurance companies.
While you are doing this, remain cordial and polite, but do not apologize for anything, as doing so could be considered an admission of guilt and fault for the accident.
4) Inform your insurance company about the incident
After arriving back at your place of residence, phone your insurance company ASAP and inform them of the accident.
Be truthful about all pertinent details, as lying about anything can constitute grounds for denial of coverage.
5) Contact an attorney
Even if you think you are uninjured, speaking with an attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents is a must. Even victims of fender benders can end up suffering the effects of whiplash hours or even days later.
To remove any doubt, make contact with a car accident lawyer as soon as you can and present all the relevant facts of the case.
This will give you the best possible chance to receive adequate compensation for property damage and any physical and/or mental health needs you might have in the wake of your car wreck.