What to Do When You’re In a Car Accident that is Not Your Fault
In a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault? Here’s What to Do
You’ve just been rear-ended, or involved in some other accident where you are not at fault. Many people believe that non-fault accidents are easy to navigate, but taking the most important steps can ensure it is at least a smooth process and that the other driver is recognized as being at-fault.
Not taking these steps for an accident where you are not at-fault could cost you money, time, and peace of mind down the road, especially if the other driver gives a conflicting story of the events. Always remember to take these steps immediately after experiencing an accident.
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Ensure you, your passengers, and the at-fault driver are not injured
First and foremost, whether you or the other driver are at fault, you must ensure you, your passengers, and the other driver are not injured. Along with being a common courtesy, it is imperative if someone is injured to contact 911 immediately for medical legal purposes.
For instance, if you are injured and do not report it immediately you and your lawyer can see difficulties in collecting damages for medical expenses and time taken off work.
Collect the at-fault driver’s information
Once you have determined whether or not someone is injured, exchange information with the other driver. This includes:
- License information
- Insurance information
- Plate number
- Phone number of the at-fault driver
You’ll also want to ensure that the other driver has all your information, no matter who is at fault.
The personal information is important because it allows you, your insurance company, and your lawyer to contact either the at-fault driver or their insurance company.
The pictures are extremely important as court-worthy evidence in case there is a conflict about who was at-fault, or a debate on the damages. Not only should you take pictures of the damage to your car, but also to the surrounding area, to get an idea of the driving conditions—that could be a factor down the road.
Call the Police
After arriving on the scene, the police will create an official report describing both who is at fault for the accident, and some scale of the damages. This is extremely important, as you will be getting your car checked out by a mechanic and a body shop, and that police report is an official record of an accident happening.
It is also important later on to get a copy of the police report once it’s been put on file. This can be used as evidence in court, should there be any issue collecting damages paid by the insurance company.
The police will also always offer medical attention just in case. If you have any doubt in your mind that you are uninjured, it is best to take their offer.
Call Your Lawyer
Calling your lawyer is the next step. This initial call gets your attorney in on the ground floor of the issue. Any and all information collected by you, including the at-fault driver’s information and a copy of the police report, will be useful for your attorney at a later date.
Also, make sure you can clearly remember the circumstances of the accident, as this will help your lawyer’s case should the accident need to be taken up in court. It is often advised to keep a notebook handy to take notes, just in case.
With the right lawyer by your side, you could potentially realize more damages you are entitled to, which could mean more money. If you experienced emotional distress, or for some reason through injury or otherwise you miss out on time at work, you could be entitled to even more money.
Yet, those other factors are extremely difficult to realize if you do not have a qualified legal professional by your side .
Contact Your Insurance Company
Contacting the insurance company at the time of the accident means being forthright and honest in your claim. After your call, your insurance company will get to work preparing your claim against the other at-fault driver’s insurance company, or preparing a case against the uninsured at-fault driver.
Regardless of whether the other driver has insurance or not, do not delay to call your insurance company.
One thing to watch out for is people who want to settle the accident privately. At times, some people will want to keep the insurance companies out of the accident, for risk of suffering an insurance surcharge. They may offer to pay out of pocket for your expenses to avoid paying higher rates.
The danger with settling an accident privately is your lack of recourse. You could get an appraisal for the damages to your car, and the other driver could refute the costs. Then, you are stuck chasing after the other driver, or making a claim later on which will narrow your chances of receiving the protections you are entitled to.
It’s also important to understand that the damages to your automobile may not be obvious, and are often far more expensive than can be determined at the time of the accident. In short, always call your insurance company.
Wrapping It Up
Getting into a car accident where you are not at fault is at once a scary, precarious, and sometimes costly affair. In some cases, it can even be traumatizing. Yet, taking all the right steps to ensure you have the other driver, your insurance company, and your lawyer involved from the start can ensure you’re in the right hands.
Timothy C. Moynahan is the CEO and owner of Moynahan Partners, which offers business development consultancy, identifying strategic business partnerships and funding sources. He founded and heads the Moynahan Law Firm, Waterbury, Connecticut, and is “of counsel” to the Jin Law Group at 200 Park Avenue in New York. He is a sought-after and successful trial lawyer, earning the Super Lawyer of New England and Connecticut awards from 2009 to 2012 and Best Criminal Defense Attorney accolade in 2013.