Getting into a car accident can be shocking and paralyzing, leaving you searching for the next step to take. But the aftermath of an accident doesn’t have to be confusing. If you’re in a wreck, follow these steps to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Get to a Safe Place
The first thing you should do immediately after a collision is to get to a safe place. If you can move your car, drive to a well-lit, public place nearby, especially if you suspect that you’re going to be the victim of a staged accident. Move your car off the road, using your flashers and staying aware of traffic
Secure Passengers and Call Law Enforcement
Once you’re in a safe location, make sure none of your passengers are injured and call law enforcement and an ambulance if there are injuries. Make sure children and elderly passengers aren’t locked inside a hot car, as it’s easy to get distracted during this time.
In New Mexico, you aren’t required to call the police if the total damage of the accident is under $500. However, it’s crucial to have an official report filed by the police in case the other driver attempts to sue you.
Speak to the Other Driver
When everyone is safe and out of the way of traffic, it’s time to speak to the other driver. First, ask yourself if it’s safe to do so and if you can be calm during the interaction without help from law enforcement. While emotions may be running high, it’s important not to lay blame on the driver or yourself. If you decide to speak to the other driver, avoid:
- Saying you’re sorry and other admissions of guilt, even if you feel you’re at fault.
- Expressing anger towards the other driver, even if you feel they’re at fault.
- Discussing who is at fault in the accident.
- Speaking about injuries.
It’s important, especially in interactions with the other driver before police arrive on the scene, to not make any deals with them. If they offer to pay for any damage in order to keep insurance out of the situation, claim they don’t have insurance but will pay you or make some other offer, never agree to it.
Before leaving the scene, you must exchange insurance and contact information. If the police are present, they will help with this process to ensure everything is in order. You will need your car registration and proof of insurance, which should be kept in your car at all times, as well as your ID and contact information.
Start an Insurance Claim
Contact your car insurance provider as soon as possible to find out what information you need to provide and what you’re entitled to. Once a claim is filed, the insurance company will determine who is at fault and begin the process of resolving the claim.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
If fault in the accident is disputed, you feel it was unjustly determined or the other party sues you, a personal injury lawyer will defend you and fight for the outcome you deserve.
If you need a personal injury lawyer, Ornelas & Serna are ready to fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.