The minutes following a car accident are considerably more important than most people might think. Given the situation, most drivers are usually too shocked and disoriented to know how to react, and unfortunately for those people, their state of mind is far too easy to take advantage of for the unscrupulous or lazy. Worse, in their disoriented state they may wander into danger or fail to remove themselves from a dangerous situation.
The truth is those few minutes can be the difference between hefty liability, total chaos in your personal and financial life, criminal charges and the potential loss of your vehicle and license. With all that at stake, one might wonder why this subject doesn’t get more attention. There are several important things a driver should consider if they are in an accident, even one with minimal damage or injury.
One of the key questions is what should you do with your vehicle? Can you move it? Should you? Should you leave the vehicle unsupervised? Should you leave the scene?
As with any accident, your first priority is to render first aid wherever possible, contact first responders and avoid or prevent any potential hazards to life or property. If the accident takes place on a grade, for example, or near any kind of obstacle or structure, be especially careful to avoid anything that’s obviously unsafe. If safety considerations require you to leave your vehicle or move it, you can argue you were justified.
Your car accident attorney will likely agree if you are in an accident of any kind, especially if there is any significant damage or injury, you should treat the area as a crime scene. You should lock your car and supervise it closely until you have discharged your legal duties at the scene, including making your insurance information and identity available to the other drivers and the police.
Until such time as you’ve had the opportunity to document the scene with photographs of the damage, the street and any other vehicles or debris, you shouldn’t move your car unless required to by law. In some states, “fender bender” type accidents that occur on major highways or freeways that are not serious enough to warrant first responders are generally required to clear the road as quickly as possible, so in some cases you may not have a choice. Always comply with requests by police on the scene in these cases, as it could be a safety issue or cause additional problems if you don’t.
However, if you are not blocking traffic, get the evidence recorded before you move your vehicle. It is vitally important you are able to document the accident scene later.
Some drivers prefer to adjust the scene in their favor rather than face the fact they were at fault in the accident. This is why it is important to not only stay with your vehicle, but also to document the actions of the other drivers, especially if they are belligerent, trying to cause a scene or engaged in vandalism or other fraudulent activity.
Your mobile phone is a portable television station allowing recording and even live broadcasting. Your mobile phone is your best tool following a car accident. Use it to obtain as much evidence as possible. Be sure to document as much of the accident scene as possible, as you never know what minor details such as positioning of vehicles may impact the case.
Another key reason to supervise your vehicle is so you can categorically refuse any illegal search of your property. The moment you exit your vehicle, lock all the doors, make sure the trunk is closed and make sure all the intact windows are up. An unattended vehicle could not only be subject to a break-in, but might also end up searched without your knowledge or consent, which can only add to the legal hassles later, especially if the police think they found evidence they can use against you.
Accidents are disorienting, but in order to protect yourself, you have to take action as quickly as possible. Be aware of what’s going on and gather evidence as fast as possible. Your attorney will be grateful. Call our Denton car accident lawyers today at any of our convenient locations and get a free consultation.
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