Car accidents can easily turn even a calm person into a "road rager" who makes mistakes to hurt his claim later. But even with poor impulses, there are a handful of things you shouldn't ever do after a car accident.
Of course, always consult with an experienced attorney after every car crash.
Here are some other suggestions:
1. Do not leave the scene. Never leave the accident scene until it's appropriate to do so. If you leave, particularly where someone has sustained injuries or was killed, you can face serious criminal penalties for being a hit-and-run driver. Make certain you are not in the road, so as to cause another accident. Get someplace safe and await the investigating officers to arrive. You may feel the impulse to get in a cab or a friend's car and just go home. Ignore that impulse, in some cases it can be a felony, and you don't need to add criminal charges to problems after an accident.
2. Do not start apologizing. It might seem like a customary or polite thing to do, but it's better to avoid it. Yes, get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers' license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved.In talking to other drivers, try to be cordial and cooperative. However, you shouldn't apologize for anything at the scene. For example, if you say, "I'm so sorry ! Is everyone okay?" you may be admitting legal responsibility and liability for what happened. Immediately after an accident, it might not be clear who was at fault or more at fault.
Although there is a statutory law in Indiana that limits the use of apologies in court, it is subject to interpretation and is better avoided. Simply ask if everyone is okay and await the police to give your official statement.
3. Do not fail to locate witnesses who saw the crash or take photos of the crash, if you can. Many police departments do not list witnesses or addresses on standard crash reports. If you know somebody saw the accident, inform the police at the scene and ask politely that a statement be taken from him or her.
Do not fail to take cell phone photos of the cars after impact. The positioning of the cars is vital to an accurate reconstruction later. If you are able to move and feel okay, there is no law that says you cannot take cell phone photographs of the vehicles or roadway or your injuries. Do not take photos of the other driver.
4. Do not talk with the other driver's insurance company or attorney. Odds are that the other parties in the accident will have their insurance companies and/or attorneys contact you to drill you for information about the accident. It can be used against you later in depositions or in court. Simply tell them to contact your attorney and give them the name.
5. Do not accept the first settlement offer. If the claim reaches the settlement stage, you might be tempted to think you can save money without hiring an attorney. In fact, the claims adjuster will tell you explicitly that hiring an attorney will not increase the offer or delay the matter. Don't believe it. Statistics show an attorney might take some time, but it's nearly always worth it for you and your loved ones.
At Shaw Law Offices, we never charge a fee in advance. Only when you win, do we accept a fee.
And if we win, Indiana wins. In this new era of social consciousness, we are a "green" law firm. Unlike other law firms, we make the community safer by giving a percentage of every fee to a community or state-wide charitable or non-profit 501(C)(3) organization that has safety of the community as a goal. You get to pick the organization from a list we provide of Indiana safety-conscious groups to make your family and community safer in the future.
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