Whether it’s a fender bender or a potentially life-altering event, car crashes can be a traumatic experience. The aftermath of a crash can be a confusing as well as a vulnerable time, potentially leading to unnecessary legal harm.
2 important first steps
Before assessing whether any injuries have occurred or the extent of the damage, it’s essential to take these first two steps:
- Always safely pull over: Drivers are obligated to stay at the scene of an accident, even if they don’t believe any injuries or damage has occurred
- Never admit fault: Drivers are often confused and disoriented in the moments surrounding a crash. Police will do an investigation, and the drivers’ insurance companies and attorneys will do the talking for them
Put lives before property
The first moments after a crash are vital in helping the injured and assessing damage to vehicles. Drivers should do the following:
Call 911: If anyone appears to be injured, call 911 at once describing the scene and injuries in as much detail as possible. Even if no injuries occur in a fender bender, the lack of a police report or hospital records means it will be one driver’s word against the other.
Don’t alter the site of the crash: If the crash happened in the middle of a busy street, try to move the car to the side of the road if it is drivable and safe to do so. If not, move away from the vehicle to a safe place. Mechanics warn to get away if the odor of gasoline is present and don’t try to move the vehicle if there are leaking fluids or flat tires.
Exchange insurance information: No matter how minor the crash, get the following information:
- Names of all drivers
- Addresses and phone numbers from their drivers’ licenses
- Year, make, model and license plate numbers
- Insurance policy numbers
Document the scene: Taking pictures of all damaged vehicles and the surrounding area can help support your statements.
The next step may be experienced legal help
Once the police arrive and injuries and damages are assessed, it’s time to call the insurance company. Contacting them quickly gives them the best chance to get an accurate picture of the scene and the damage.
In many cases, protecting a driver’s rights here in Alabama is best handled by an attorney with experience in personal injury litigation, especially where injuries result or are claimed, or a dispute ensues over the cause of or fault for the crash.