Up to 3 million people are injured in vehicle accidents every year in the United States, according to local law firm Clawson & Clawson. Unfortunately, even safe drivers can get into automobile collisions, which is why it’s important to know what to do when one happens.
Here are some tips for what you should do if you’re in an automobile collision.
The best way to keep everyone safe is to stay calm in the immediate aftermath of an accident. It can be difficult, but take a few deep breaths and check on yourself and others to see if there are any injuries.
Do not immediately apologize or admit fault. Anything you say can be documented and used against you in the future.
Move out of traffic
If your car is drivable, move it to the side of the road or out of the way to avoid causing another accident or a traffic jam. Stay on the scene until you’ve seen the amount of damage done or whether there are any injuries.
Depending on the severity of the accident, you may need to wait until you’ve spoken to authorities to leave. In Colorado, it is a crime to leave the scene early if there is property damage, injuries, or death, according to FindLaw.
Call emergency services
If someone is injured or you need to report the accident, call emergency services. Keep in mind, though, that not every accident needs a police report. In Colorado, reports are necessary only if the accident involves injuries, the repairs needed will cost more than $1,000, or one of the drivers doesn’t have proof of insurance.
If you call, wait until an officer or emergency services arrives. If your vehicle is in a safe spot, sit with your seatbelt on. Otherwise, walk away from traffic as much as possible.
Use a camera or your phone to take photos of:
- All sides of each vehicle
- Close up of all vehicle damage
- License plates of all vehicles
- Entire accident scene
- People involved including other driver, passengers and witnesses
Exchange contact information
Regardless of the severity of the crash, you’ll need some information from the other driver, so you can each make a claim with your insurance company. Important information includes the following:
- First and last name
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance company name and policy number
Avoid admitting fault during your exchange with the other driver, and continue to stay calm during your interactions.
Call a tow truck
If your vehicle isn’t safe to drive, you’ll need to call a tow truck to take it to a mechanic. If you have a smartphone, do a quick online search for nearby repair shops before calling a towing company, as some may work better than others with your insurance.
Ask for legal advice
When you get home after the accident, it’s time to contact an attorney. You may think a lawyer is unnecessary if you have insurance but, unfortunately, that is not the case.
“Car insurance claims can become highly complex, and having an advocate by your side who can explain and guide you through this situation could make all the difference in your case,” Michael Clawson says. “Unfortunately, insurance companies are not on the driver's side and will do whatever it takes to reduce the value of your claim.”
The skilled attorneys at Clawson & Clawson, a U.S. News and World Report Best Law Firm of 2020 with more than 100 years of combined experience, are the experts when it comes to auto accidents. For a free review of your case, call 719-602-5888.