Dallas/Fort Worth car accident lawyer Amy Witherite advises motorists on best practices after a car wreck
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was a 7.2 percent increase in deaths from car wrecks in 2015, the largest percentage increase since 1966.
“As someone who has been involved in several car wrecks, I can tell you that no matter how smart or logical you think you are, nothing prepares you for the moment after a car accident,” stated Dallas personal injury lawyer Amy Witherite of Eberstein & Witherite, LLO. “It’s not just the physical impact of the accident, but the mental aspect that is so unexpected. You sort of go into this bubble where nothing seems quite real, and that sensation really compromises your ability to make sound decisions.”
The truth is, no one is really prepared to deal with getting hit by another vehicle, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn some of the most important things to do…and not to do to when those situations arise.
THINGS TO DO
1. Get the Police Involved
Per Geoff Williams’ article, 7 Steps To Take After a Fender Bender, published in U.S. News & World Report, calling 911 ensures that an objective third party will take the necessary reports and photos to document the car wreck.
“Calling 911 is always a good idea, because when you’re hit by another vehicle, you don’t want to put the fate of any future litigation in the hands of the other motorist,” Witherite added. “Because the at-fault motorist has a vested interest in making sure that there is little or no evidence collected at the accident site that could be used against them in the future.”
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t obtain basic details such as the other driver’s name, address, insurance information and phone number. But anything else pertinent to the car wreck should be obtained by a police officer.
2. Take Video Or Photos of the Scene
It’s also extremely important that you document the accident scene.
In a piece about car accidents, Phillip Reed of Edmunds.com, writes, “Keep in mind that you want your photos to show the overall context of the accident so that you can make your case to a claims adjuster.”
The era of digital devices has made it much easier for accident victims to take photos and videos of damaged vehicles and bodily injuries and immediately upload them to cloud-based storage or email accounts for later use.
3. Call A Lawyer
A lot of motorists who have been hit by another vehicle think that they should wait several hours before they call a personal injury lawyer.
But the truth is, the quicker you contact a lawyer, the quicker that lawyer can get their firm’s investigators to the crash site, and help secure evidence and interview witnesses while the details of the accident are still fresh in their minds.
In fact, you should contact a lawyer prior to speaking to your own insurance company, because you don’t want to say something to the insurance representative that will compromise your legal rights.
THINGS NOT TO DO
1. Don’t Say A Word To the Other Party
Emotions run high after a car wreck, and it’s tempting to want to lash out at the responsible party by engaging in conversation.
But as Laiza King of The Huffington Post writes in, 7 Smart Things To Do Immediately After An Accident, “Discussing can distort the mental image you have of the accident and then you won’t be able to separate what you saw from what you discussed.”
You might also end up saying something that the other party can use against you during a settlement claim negotiation.
“Let us do the talking,” Witherite advised. “We know exactly what to say, who to say it to, and how to say it. And we’re going to be able to do that in a clear, logical way that won’t harm your future litigation.”
2. Don’t Leave the Scene
Unless you are badly injured and need immediate medical attention, don’t leave the scene of the car wreck. If you leave, it gives the driver of the vehicle that hit you the opportunity to present the details of the accident in way that will not be advantageous to you.
And in most states, there are specific laws about the responsibilities of each driver involved in a car wreck, and those laws typically include penalties or fines for leaving the scene of an accident, even if that accident was not your fault.
3. Don’t Talk To the Other Driver’s Insurance Representative
Under no circumstances should you ever speak to a representative of the insurance company of any driver involved in the car wreck.
“The general rule we like to advise our clients is to let us handle the other driver’s insurance company,” Witherite said. “The other insurance company is not your friend, and they want to do anything they can to get you to tell a story that will favor their insured. Don’t fall into that trap, or you may regret it later on.”
You may never be involved in a car wreck, but if you do and you need a personal injury lawyer, the team at 1-800-Car-Wreck will get you back on your feet. We help people living in Houston, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso and other major cities in Texas keep their lives running after a car accident.
Eberstein & Witherite, LLP
Email: [email protected]