To say accidents happen is putting it bluntly but what happens immediately after the accident is the most important time you will spend in reference to the unfortunate occurrence. The rest of your life may depend and may be based on the first 15 minutes post accident.
First you must realize you will not be yourself after crashing your car into someone else’s car or when they hit you. It doesn’t matter if it is a single car accident (you versus a parked car or a light post) or a multiple car accident (someone blew the light at an intersection) you will not be yourself.
Your first thoughts are “what the…” and your second thoughts are “what the heck did they do to me?” It will automatically be someone else’s fault even though you know it was your misjudgment which caused the accident. However, you must gather your thoughts rather quickly and first off don’t say anything at all except to ask “are you all right?”
Resist the urge everyone makes and that is to explain what happened. Don’t say you were in a hurry, you didn’t see them, you thought they were farther away and don’t make accusations such as “what were you thinking” or “didn’t you see me?’ Whatever you say at this very moment the other person will remember, witnesses will remember and you cannot take it back.
Secondly if there are injuries you can summon an ambulance by calling 9-1-1 or whatever code works in your city. Again don’t offer up any explanations when you make the call. Don’t commit to anything even to the police. If you think you were at fault don’t say so. Let your insurance company and your lawyer do this for you. Also don’t say “I don’t remember” because this indicates you may have blacked out or were asleep. These are two very serious implications when an accident occurs. The best advice is to say nothing and maybe offer up “let me get my thoughts together” to avoid the question.
When your insurance company or the agent is in contact then you can begin your explanation. The police will try to determine fault right away but make sure you don’t give them information which may be based on a faulty recollection. You cannot retract what you say at the scene and while you may think you were at fault you may not be. You don’t know if the other person was using drugs, fell asleep or maybe had a couple of beers an hour ago. There is no way for you to tell and even if you may have done something wrong a DUI driver may be the reason the accident really occurred.
Next make sure you get medical attention. Don’t slough it off as “I’m okay, let me sit here for a moment.” Most soft tissue injuries will manifest themselves within days after the accident. Swelling takes place immediately and you may not feel the pain until a few days later. You need to see a doctor right away even if it is a quick check up for ex-rays. Never refuse medical care at the scene after an accident, especially when you’ve been hit from behind. Many a lawsuit never went to the proper stage because a passenger or driver said “no, I’m all right” immediately after the accident. Thousands of dollars in medical bills later they realized they made a big mistake.