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What Not to Do in a Car Accident: 10 Things Not to Do After a Car Accident

Updated May 18, 2021 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Knowing what to avoid after a car accident can save you loads of time, but you have to stay in control. After a car accident, you never how how you will react, especially if your car is totaled or you’re suffering from an injury. While reacting impulsively after a massive inconvenience is a go-to for many, it’s the last thing you want to do after a car accident.

What Not to Do in a Car Accident

Follow this list of 10 things of what not to do after a car accident. Even if you are in a car accident with no one else involved, you should follow these steps to ensure the best outcome after your accident.

1. Leave the Scene

You should always stay at the scene of an accident and wait until police come to give a report. Driving off after an accident means you are breaking the law.

Under Indiana Code (IC) 9-26-1-1.1, a driver must remain at the scene of an accident and share their driver’s and insurance information with the other parties involved. If there is any injury or death, the driver must give notice of the accident and stay at the scene. It is illegal under Indiana law to flee the scene of the accident.  If you are leaving the scene of an accident not at fault or at fault for the accident, it is illegal.

Get to a safe area where you are both not obstructing traffic and not endangering yourself around traffic. Exchange all relevant information and again, do not leave the scene until a police officer says it is okay.

2. Not Call 911

There is a common misconception that if a car accident only results in minor damage and no injuries. Steering clear of law enforcement is exactly what not to do in a car accident. However, no matter how major or minor an accident may be, you should always call the police and file a police report. If you have been involved in an accident, dial 911 and wait for further instructions.

Police reports play a role in expediting cases. They are a third party document that holds merit when collecting evidence. Police officers may also be able to assist with any safety protocols and mediate interactions between drivers.

It may be the case that an officer does not show up to a minor collision. If this happens, you should still make a police report by going to a nearby police station.

3. Panic

You just got into an accident and your car is totaled. Car accidents may be frustrating, shocking, frightening, and emotional. You never quite know how you are going to react. You may even feel some, or a lot of, anger. If there is car accident damage, the first thing that might come to mind is that you night now be able to afford to fix your car, and dealing with insurance companies can be frustrating.

Yet, It’s important to keep your cool. Losing your temper on the scene puts you in a bad position. Remember to always be respectful. You are allowed to feel angry, but you still need to be respectful of the other party, even if this was their fault. Maintaining a sense of grounding in the moment will you in the future if and when you decide to pursue a case. If you are the at fault driver, panicking at the scene may also work against you.

4. Forget to Gather Evidence

Documenting the scene is one of the most important tasks to do after an accident occurs. If you have your phone or a camera on you, take as much footage as you can to be used as evidence. Collect contact information of eyewitnesses and write down your own accord of what happened at the scene. If you wait to write a personal statement, you risk forgetting some details. If police respond and appear to write a police report, gather the officer’s information as well. Record all license plates, the time of day, the date, and the location of the accident. As much information as you can gather to use as evidence is best.

5. Don’t Apologize Or Admit Fault

Don’t admit fault in an accident. You should always be calm and polite, but apologizing to the other driver or an insurance provider can be interpreted as admitting fault for the accident. An apology could mean that you’re denied coverage or made to be responsible for damage to the car.

Determining who is at fault is not your job. Insurance companies and, if need be, a jury and judge will determine who is at fault. However, by admitting fault in a car accident, the chances of you being targeted as the at-fault driver rises substantially; it will be an uphill battle in the long run, especially if there is a record of you admitting fault. Indiana has at-fault insurance, meaning damages are paid by the amount of fault both parties are found to have. If it is determined that a driver A is 70 percent at fault and driver B is 30 percent at fault, each driver pays accordingly based on the percentage. Admitting fault at the scene- though tempting to do- can ultimately be used against you and cost you a lot of money.

6. Don’t Wait To Receive Medical Treatment

After a car accident, it’s normal to feel in shock. When you are in such a high-intensity situation, such as a car accident, your adrenaline will be pumping which takes away from the severity of any injuries you may or may not be aware of.  Seeking medical treatment after car accident is of utmost importance.

Injuries from a car accident could take days or months to manifest. However, you shouldn’t wait until the pain surfaces to be evaluated. Take a trip to your family physician for a quick checkup as soon as you can after the accident. Save any and all records from the visit. If further medical attention is needed down the line or if you see any specialists, keep those records, too.

Saying to the other party or even friends and family that you did not sustain any injuries or that you don’t need medical treatment could result in a denial of compensation. It is best to immediately see a doctor, even if you think you are unharmed.

7. Don’t Sign Off On the First Settlement Offer

Even if the settlement fits your needs like a glove, don’t make any decisions before talking it out with your attorney. Your injury attorney will make sure you walk away with the compensation you deserve.

On that same note, don’t immediately accept an estimate or appraisal for damages. If you’re not satisfied with the estimate or appraisal costs that your insurance company offers, investigate on your own to find a price you’re more comfortable with. If your insurance company pushes back, keep pushing and hire an attorney to help you get what you deserve.

Do not enter into an unfair settlement. You do not have to, nor should you, accept the first offer an insurance company gives you. Settlement negotiations can be riddled with legal jargon. It’s best to have your car accident attorney present at all times when speaking with insurance companies. That goes for your own insurance company as well as the other party’s.

8. Don’t File A Lawsuit Without A Lawyer

In the heat of the moment, you might feel inclined to file a lawsuit on your own. Keep in mind that car accidents and personal injury lawsuits can get complicated. A settlement offer may be difficult enough to negotiate, especially if dealing with an insurance company who is attempting to low-ball you. If your case goes to trial, the process becomes more convoluted. The last thing you want is to be knee-deep in a lawsuit not knowing left from right. Hiring a trustworthy accident injury lawyer before you take action will help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Experienced attorneys can not only guide you through the process, but provide knowledge and resources to build a strong case. We can help you gather and evaluate evidence as well as present it to insurance companies or in a court. You do not have to go through this process alone. If you do, you may be fighting an uphill battle.

9. Neglect to Speak to Your Own Insurance Company

If you do not file a claim with your insurance company, they may be able to deny you coverage. If you are wondering how to describe car accident for insurance, speak with your lawyer and/or have your lawyer present to do the talking for you. Communicating with insurance companies is imperative, yet it’s best to have a lawyer present while doing so.

10. Not Hire an Attorney

What not to do in a car accident is avoid legal assistance. One of the first things you should do after an accident is hire a car accident attorney. Even if you do not pursue a lawsuit, having an attorney present during the insurance claims process is helpful. An insurance company must go through your attorney if you have one. This way, fair negotiation can take place. Working with an experienced car accident attorney will ultimately help you moving forward from your accident.

Contact an Automobile Accident Attorney Today

We hope that this list of what not to do after a car accident can help you if you ever do get into a car accident. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a car accident, you are urged to contact the law offices of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. Our Indianapolis car accident lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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