The moments immediately following a car accident are extraordinarily rattling. You may be unsure of what’s happened or how you feel. Panic, pain, and confusion are common. It’s easy to forget what you’re supposed to do.
That’s why it’s a good idea to take a few minutes every now and then to review the proper steps to take after any auto accident. Making the right choices can protect your health and your legal interests. As a general rule, the sooner you take action, the better.
Getting legal help is part of the process. The parties involved in a car accident need to understand their rights and responsibilities. In most cases, injured victims are entitled to financial relief, but the insurance companies are rarely forthcoming about the real value of a claim. An experienced Charlotte car accident attorney can help.
There’s a lot to know about responding to car crashes. This page will give you the info you need in an easy-to-follow format. You may want to bookmark it now so you’ll have an easy reference should you ever need it.
Remember: no one expects to have an auto accident. They happen without warning. Knowledge is power, and the time to prepare is now.
Initial Steps to Take After an Auto Accident in North Carolina
Keeping a cool head in the moments just after a car crash can prove extremely helpful. Take a deep breath and make a decision to address the situation safely and responsibly without allowing the natural instinct of panic to overtake you. Then, follow these steps:
- If possible, move your car out of traffic and off of the road.
- Turn on hazard lights if you can (to alert other drivers).
- Get yourself to a safe place as quickly as possible. Get away from your car if you suspect there is a risk of fire or explosion.
- Call 911. Report the accident. It’s the law.
- Stay put. Leaving the scene of the accident is illegal, even if you don’t suspect damage.
- Try to assess yourself for injuries. Often, it’s impossible to tell whether you’re hurt right away. Don’t do anything to risk your health.
- Try to find out if anyone else is hurt. This includes other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
- Recognize that other parties may be hostile or aggressive. Avoid altercations. Call the police again if the situation gets out of control.
- Call a lawyer. It’s a good idea to have a number handy. In fact, you may want to store the phone number for the DeMayo Law Offices, L.L.P. ® in your phone now so you’ll have it handy: 1.877.529.1222. You can call us 24/7 to get started with a Charlotte car accident attorney right away. The sooner the better.
- Gather as much evidence as you can. Write down the time, the name of the road, the make/model and license plate numbers of each vehicle, a description of how you feel, the names and contact information of every eyewitness, and any comments other people may make.
- Once the officer arrives, cooperate with his or her instructions. Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s). The officer can often help with this interaction.
- Ask for a copy of the police report before the officer leaves the scene.
- Call your insurance company to report the accident.
- Once you’ve been cleared by the police officer, you may leave the scene in as safe a manner as possible. Do not drive a damaged or dangerous car.
Common Mistakes Drivers Make After a North Carolina Car Crash
Talking too much, saying the wrong things, or entering into hasty agreements after a car crash can prove very costly. Unfortunately, there is a lot of pressure to make those very mistakes when you’re caught up in the frenzy of an accident.
Too often, people who truly deserve financial compensation for their accident injuries make statements that prove detrimental to their own claim. To prevent that, you’ll want to avoid these common mistakes:
- Admitting fault. Even a simple sentence like “I’m sorry” can be used against you. Be careful of what you say to anyone else at the scene.
- Failing to get a copy of the police report. Officers sometimes advise that a police report isn’t necessary. Respectfully remind the officer that you’d like one nonetheless.
- Talking to the other side’s insurance company. Never talk to an insurance representative until you’ve consulted with your Charlotte car accident attorney first. The insurance companies do not work for you, they do not represent your interests, and they are not on your side.
- Signing a settlement. Agreeing to a settlement – even over the phone — is almost always a mistake. The insurance company’s job is to pay you as little as possible. Their settlement offer is likely far less than you deserve.
- Not calling an attorney. Auto accident injury claims are complicated. People who try to handle them on their own usually stumble into critical pitfalls along the way. Talk with a professional instead.
Will Contacting a Lawyer Cost Money?
At DeMayo Law Offices, L.L.P. ®, our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not take an attorney’s fee unless we recover money on your behalf. Because we don’t get paid until you get paid, we fight hard to win your case.
Additionally, we offer initial consultations in person or over the phone — completely free of charge.
When you contact a Charlotte auto accident attorney in our office, you’ll know you have experience and dedication on your side, and you won’t have to pay upfront in order to secure the justice you deserve.
If you or a loved has been injured in an auto accident in North Carolina, our lawyers can help. Contact us for a free consultation today.