You obey all speed limits, look carefully both ways several times before turning into traffic, and you never follow other cars too closely. No matter how carefully you try to drive, however, the odds are good that at some point in your life, you'll be involved in a collision with another vehicle. What you do right afterward can mean the difference between a positive outcome and an event that will haunt you for years to come.
Here are some tips on what to do right away when you're involved in an auto accident.
Check For Injuries.
If anybody appears to be seriously injured, don't try to move them unless they are in a particularly dangerous location (there's a vehicle on fire, you are located on a high-speed or high-traffic road, for example). Otherwise, be sure everyone gets to safety and wait for emergency personnel.
Prompt reporting of an accident may be required by law in Alabama, even if there are no serious injuries. If there appear to be injuries, though, be sure to tell the emergency operator that both an ambulance and police are needed. If you're too badly hurt to call and there are bystanders, ask one to do it. Even if the accident appears to be a minor "fender bender," it's important to call. The police will respond and complete an accident report, which your insurance company will usually want to see.
Wait For Help
If your car is still drivable, move it out of the way of oncoming traffic. Turn off the engine and turn on the four-way flashers. If you're not seriously hurt and can do so, get out of the car and move to a safe location nearby. If the vehicle is disabled and located on the highway or a busy road, do not get out of the car for as long as possible—it is essential to stay safe and avoid a further accident or additional injuries.
Document The Accident
It's always best not to discuss who was at fault with either the other driver or any witnesses. If they ask - which they usually do - you'll have to tell the police what happened, but try to avoid admitting fault. Statements you make – even to the police - may be used against you later. If you can, do get the names and contact information of all witnesses. In addition, make sure the police officer has a clear summary of the accident so that the details included in their police report are accurate, detailed, and useful for later, potential use in court.
Take as many pictures as you can of both vehicles and anyone's injuries (or the lack of them). In addition to taking photos, you could also take a video with your smartphone. Every piece of documentary evidence helps your case.
Calling Your Insurance Agent Or Company First – It's Usually Not A Good Idea
Except in the case of a minor accident, it's hardly ever a good idea to call your insurance agent or company before consulting a qualified auto accident attorney. Remember, insurers aren't in business to pay claims – they will do whatever they can to limit the amount they must pay out.
An experienced accident attorney is on your side alone. While small non-injury accidents may not involve legal issues, consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer can still provide peace of mind. Let your attorney deal with your insurance company and, if necessary, the other driver's insurance company. It is a fact that an insurance company is likely to pay more if you have an attorney involved than if you are unrepresented or otherwise on your own. Even if the insurer eventually settles the claim, you'll be better off having a dedicated advocate on your side. Your attorney may even be able to persuade your insurer that the accident was not your fault. This can save you money down the line on insurance.
It may also be that the other side denies fault or their insurance company fails to pay you. In such a case, your attorney may need to file a lawsuit against the other driver to pay for your injuries.
Call An Experienced Alabama Auto Accident Firm Today
If you've been involved in a car accident, don't delay getting legal help. The lawyers at Spellen Law have many years of experience dealing with auto insurance companies. We can help you get the compensation you deserve. You don’t pay anything unless we are successful in winning your claim. Give us a call today at (205)820-9474 or use the contact form on our website.