Knowing what to do after a car accident that’s not your fault is an important part of any driver’s education. When an accident happens, it’s common to feel scared, relieved, and shaken up. That’s why it’s so important to know what to do when someone hits your car, how to protect your rights to compensation, and what your legal obligation is before an accident occurs. By preparing for the worst, you’re ready to tackle it if it happens.
7 Immediate Next Steps After an Accident That’s Not Your Fault
After an accident that’s not your fault, here’s what you need to do:
- Ensure Your Safety
- Contact The Police
- Admit No Fault And Be Careful Of Declarations
- Share Insurance Information
- Preserve Evidence
- Contact Your Insurance
- Contact An Attorney
By following these steps you mitigate your risk and help ensure that the damages you suffer can be redressed.
Preventing An Accident
No one wants to be in a car wreck, which is why good drivers practice defensive driving. Scanning the road around you, adapting to traffic, and following the rules of the road help ensure you don’t cause a car collision.
Unfortunately, not all drivers are that cautious, nor do they own up to their mistakes. What you do after a car accident that’s not your fault can have a major impact on protecting yourself financially and preserving your rights to be compensated for property damage, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
The Accidents You Can’t Prevent
Stopped at a red light, another driver runs into the back of your vehicle. Someone backing out of their driveway fails to look and reverses into the side of your car as you drive past. Making a protected left turn, a driver in an oncoming lane fails to heed their stoplight and t-bones your vehicle. None of these were your fault, and there may have been nothing you could do to prevent the accident, but it still happened and you need to protect yourself and your financial future.
Ensure Your Safety
The most important thing after a car wreck is the health and safety of the people involved. Make sure you and your passengers aren’t in need of immediate medical care. Next, you’ll want to take stock of your surroundings.
Are you at a busy intersection or a quiet residential side street? Is your vehicle still operational? If safe to do so, you can move your car out of the way of traffic, but you’ll want to communicate with the other driver so they know you aren’t leaving the scene. If you aren’t impeding traffic, leave the vehicle where it is for now.
Contact The Police
If an accident occurs on a public road, the police must be called to report the collision. This is a legal requirement, and the other party cannot pay for your damages to avoid involving the police, nor can it be ignored if “there’s hardly a scratch”.
The police will come to the scene and create a report based on the physical evidence present and statements you and the other driver give. This report will be available from their department after the fact, and you’ll want a copy for your records and a copy to give to the insurance.
Admit No Fault And Be Careful Of Declarations
It is important that you admit no fault or give the appearance that you are accepting any blame. Statements like, “I’m sorry.” can be construed as evidence of liability and potentially give an insurance company leverage to deny a claim. Even if the other party blames you, do not say anything that sounds like you are agreeing with their assessment. Also, avoid saying you aren’t injured or that you fell ok.
After a wreck, adrenaline is coursing through your body and you may not feel the effects of an injury immediately. Instead, “I do not believe I need immediate medical care at this time.” both signify you do not need immediate care, but that you may not be entirely uninjured and may seek care at a later date.
Share Your Insurance Information
You’ll need to collect insurance information from the other driver. This includes their name, tag number, insurance carrier, and ID or policy number. While this information may also be on the police report, it’s always a good idea to get it yourself so you can begin the claims process as soon as possible rather than waiting several days for the report to be filed and available. Even if you are not at fault, they will still need your insurance information.
Remembering what to do after a car accident that’s not your fault can be difficult, but remembering accurately the events leading up to and during a car accident can be even harder.
Accuracy is important for both a successful claim and for your own protection if your claim is challenged in court. Try to take pictures or video of the accident scene when it’s safe to do so.
Get as many angles as possible. Even if you have already moved the vehicles, these pictures can help show traffic conditions, weather, road conditions, skid marks, and other important information.
Get the names and contact information of witnesses. Their testimony can be valuable in a court of law. Don’t forget to record your own memories and thoughts as soon as practical, either in a written statement for yourself or take a selfie video of yourself talking about the incident. These extemporaneous statements may help support your case if needed and can help jog your memory months later.
Contact Insurance Companies
Even if it isn’t your fault, you still need to let your insurance know about the wreck. They’ll take your statement and the evidence you’ve gathered. This helps them fight against the other driver’s claim if they decide to file one against you.
Depending on your insurance coverage, they may also need the information to negotiate with the other driver’s carrier on repair costs. Once you file your initial claim with the other driver’s insurance, be very careful what you sign. They may try to get you to accept a smaller settlement as full payment or sign a declaration absolving them of liability.
Contact Your Attorney
What you do after a car accident that’s not your fault can have a huge impact on your health and finances. You have rights, and working with an experienced personal injury attorney helps make sure they’re protected. Your attorney will help you understand legal documents, pursue damages, and get the money you need to cover repairs, medical bills, and lost wages while you rebuild your life.
Get A Free Consultation With a Car Accident Attorney
You can start working with a Philadelphia personal injury attorney who’s ready to fight for you today. Contact our office and speak with a lawyer who cares about your case and helping you get back on track.
They’ll talk to you about the specifics of your case, your options moving forward, and how best to ensure you are made whole. The initial consultation is free of charge, so you can stop worrying and focus on recovery. Get the help your case needs from Anapol Weiss today.