No one plans to get into a car crash, and many people react in unusual ways because of how the body responds to the trauma of a crash. The surge of adrenaline that people commonly experience in the moments immediately before or right after a collision can cloud decision-making and make it harder for you to do the right thing.
Unfortunately, if you make certain mistakes after a car crash, you will potentially compromise your legal right to compensation and an insurance claim. In fact, some mistakes might even result in criminal charges or in law enforcement naming you as the responsible party for the crash.
You cannot leave the scene unless emergency care is necessary
It is illegal to leave the scene of a crash that causes injury to someone or damage to property. You have an obligation to report the incident to law enforcement and to wait for them to come and take a report.
Driving off could mean facing hit-and-run allegations, even if the other party was clearly responsible for the crash. Unless you were close to a medical facility and someone in your car can’t wait for first responders, you will likely have a hard time justifying leaving.
Don’t move your vehicle until you document everything
If a crash occurs on a busy highway or a major intersection, the chances are good that at least one of the vehicles involved will block the flow of traffic. Provided that it is safe and possible to do so, it is sometimes necessary to move the vehicles in order to allow traffic to proceed while you wait for law enforcement.
It is reasonable and legal to move the vehicles to reduce the impact on traffic, but make sure you take photographs from many different angles and possibly a video of the scene of the crash before you move the vehicles. Failing to do so could mean erasing evidence that shows you are not at fault.
Don’t apologize to the other driver or police
Many people feel that it is an act of politeness to apologize when they inconvenience others. Even if you aren’t responsible for the crash, you might apologize to the other driver or the professionals who respond to your call for help. Apologizing can impact your legal rights by giving insurance providers or the other party grounds to claim that you acknowledged personal fault for the crash.
Additionally, take care when talking with insurance companies, especially the company of the other driver that must pay your claim. It will likely be in your benefit to talk with an attorney before making any kind of formal statement, especially if the company intends to record you.