You’ve been in an accident. You’re feeling scared, overwhelmed and not sure what to do next. There are steps you must take to ensure your own safety and the safety of the other driver, but there are also things you should never ever do after an accident.
Avoid these unwise mistakes to protect yourself and your legal rights. Here’s what NOT to do after a car accident:
1. LEAVE THE SCENE:
South Carolina law requires anyone in a car accident involving injury to a person, death or property damage to immediately stop their vehicle and remain at the scene. If you fail to do this, you could be charged with a crime. See: South Carolina Section 5-5-1210.
Get yourself out of harm’s way, call 911 and wait until police officers arrive to take a report.
2. ADMIT FAULT:
If you’re at fault, you may be tempted to apologize to the other driver, but this is a big mistake. You should never admit fault at the scene or in a conversation with an insurance provider afterwards.
Avoid saying things like “I’m so sorry, I wasn’t paying attention” or “It was all my fault.” These statements can be used against you later.
3. FORGET TO CALL 911
Many people believe that it’s unnecessary to call 911 after an accident if no one was injured. This is FALSE. Regardless of how serious the accident was, it’s always a good idea to call 911.
A police report will include crucial information about the accident and can help establish who was at fault. Never make a “gentleman’s agreement” to let the insurance company handle things because you never know if the other driver is providing accurate information.
4. DECLINE TO HIRE A LAWYER
This doesn’t apply to all accidents, but if anyone was hurt or serious property damage occurred, you should hire a lawyer. You may be tempted to file a lawsuit on your own, but most lawsuits involving car accidents are complicated and a lawyer can help you understand the process.
5. FORGET PROPER DOCUMENTATION
So you’ve remained on the scene and called 911. What else do you need to do? Don’t forget to properly document the accident. Yes, law enforcement took a report, but you need to take your own as well.
You will want to jot down as many details as you can while still on the scene, such as contact information of the parties involved, license plate numbers, date and time the accident occurred, road conditions and a short statement about what happened.
Use the camera on your phone to take pictures of all damage and the crash site area.