Car Accident Do’s and Don’ts
The moments after a car wreck are chaotic and confusing. You’re probably hurt, scared, and worried about your passengers. It’s easy to forget what to do when you get in a wreck, but your actions in the minutes, hours, days, and weeks following a collision could be critical to whether you’ll successfully recover the compensation you need.
Following these car accident do’s and don’ts can help your New Mexico car accident lawyer build a strong case on your behalf and protect your rights at the negotiating table and in the courtroom.
New Mexico Car Accident Legal Advice
Nothing is a substitute for solid legal advice. With that in mind, the tips on this car accident what-to-do list is intended to protect your health and your case.
10 Important Do’s:
- Remember: safety first. If you can, move your car to a safe location out of the way of traffic. Turn your emergency flashers on. If you cannot move the vehicle to a secure location but are not too severely injured, leave the vehicle and seek safety on the side of the road. If you or a passenger is stuck, wait for EMS to arrive and properly extricate you.
- Conduct a visual injury assessment. The intensity of a traffic collision will cause your body to release adrenaline, the “flight or fight” hormone. Adrenaline masks pain, which can make it harder to notice serious injuries. So rather than say that you’re fine, visually analyze the extent of your injuries and convey that information to the 911 operator.
- Call the police. The other driver may try to talk you out of it, but calling the authorities is in your best interest. The responding officer gathers information about the collision and files an official crash report. Your lawyer can use the crash report as a starting point to build a case against the other driver, as it includes important information about the incident.
- Exchange information with the other driver. Details include names, contact information, vehicle makes and models, and auto insurance policy information. If witnesses are present, get their names and contact information, too. Their testimony could help corroborate your account.
- Take photos and videos. Take pictures of the scene and your injuries. Try to capture any damage to your car, the road and weather conditions, traffic signs and signals, and scattered damage, like skid marks and pieces of the vehicle.
- Report the accident. New Mexico Statutes Sec. 66-7-207 requires you to send a written report of any accident involving an injury or at least $500 in property damage to the Department of Transportation within five days of the incident.
- Don’t forget your insurer. Your auto insurance policy also likely requires you to report any accident, even if you weren’t to blame. Failure to do so could jeopardize your coverage.
- Visit a doctor. Seeking prompt treatment is vital to your health. Moreover, your medical records provide valuable evidence that the car crash caused your injuries, and your lawyer can use them to properly value your claim.
- Save all documents related to the accident. Potentially valuable evidence includes medical bills, car repair estimates, a statement from your employer about how much time you missed at work, and any emails or texts regarding the accident.
- Talk to a lawyer. Your focus should be on healing, but it’s difficult to do so when you’re also working hard to recover the money you deserve from an at-fault party. Let a lawyer handle that so you don’t have to. They can independently investigate the crash, file demand letters and other necessary paperwork, negotiate aggressively with insurers, and take them to court if they won’t agree to a fair settlement.
10 Important Don’ts:
It’s important to know what to do after a collision, but it’s just as important to know what to avoid doing after a car accident. A misstep on your part could jeopardize your case or even get you into legal trouble. With that in mind, you should never:
- Say sorry. Any apology could be construed as admitting fault for the accident, which the other party’s insurance company could use to deny your claim or put up a tougher fight in negotiations or court.
- Drive off. It’s illegal to leave the scene of a car accident in New Mexico, and you could be charged with a hit-and-run. Remain at the scene until you exchange information with the other driver or, if the police were summoned, the responding officer says you can go.
- Fail to notify the authorities. Whether you call an officer to the scene or file a report yourself, state law requires that you alert the proper authorities.
- Forget to take pictures. Make sure to get details about possible witnesses, take photos of the accident and your injuries, and jot down notes about what you were doing before the crash. Without this evidence, it could be hard to substantiate your claim.
- Delay seeking medical treatment. You may not feel hurt at first, but that’s likely the effects of adrenaline. Still see a doctor as soon as possible because many common car accident injuries don’t immediately present symptoms. A trained medical professional can diagnose latent conditions and start your treatment immediately, improving your prognosis.
- Take the other drivers’ word for it. Don’t rely on a verbal agreement with the other driver to settle matters without involving the police or insurance companies. Politely decline, alert the authorities and your insurer as necessary, and contact an attorney as soon as possible.
- Speculate when talking to police or insurers. Instead, stick to the facts. Don’t exaggerate the other driver’s actions or speculate about the cause of the crash. By the same token, don’t downplay your injuries or dismiss the other drivers’ wrongdoing.
- Sign anything without talking to your lawyer. That means anything from the insurance company, like a waiver, release, or any other legal documents, until your lawyer reviews them and advises you to sign.
- Talk about the accident. Don’t post on your social media accounts, don’t talk about it at work, and don’t talk about it to the other party or their insurer.
- Ignore your lawyer. Your lawyer’s goal is to get you as much compensation as possible. They’re on your side and look out for your rights and interests. By working with them, your case will have the best shot at success.
Call Our New Mexico Car Accident Attorneys for a Free Consultation Today!
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, the New Mexico car accident lawyers with Parnall Law want to help you pursue full and fair compensation. Hurt? Call Bert. Contact us today for a free consultation.