If you are in a car accident, you may feel disoriented or confused, even if there is no injury. It is never a good idea to say anything about who is at fault at this time. Let’s look at what to say and do after a car accident that is not your fault.
First Things First
First off, stop your car in a safe place. Pull to the side of the road if you can, or at the very least move yourself to a safe place. Call the police using 911 or *HP if there are injuries or property damage.
Even if the Car Accident is Not Your Fault
Even if it’s just a minor accident, ask for the other driver’s information:
- Phone number
- License plate number
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance information
Make sure you look at the ID cards and copy the information exactly as it appears on the cards. Don’t let someone just read you their information.
Also, get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of anyone who has seen the accident. This information will come in handy later if the other person involved in the accident decides to sue for damages.
Watch What You Say
Don’t immediately admit fault or agree not to file an insurance claim. In fact, it is best not to say anything at all beyond gathering the information you need. If the other driver or their passengers keep talking or pressing you for assurances, let them know that you are feeling stressed and would rather not speak. If you have any pain, you can mention that you need to sit down or need some quiet time to relax and recover.
Above all, do not make any promises or agreements with the other driver or passengers. You could have hidden damages to your vehicle or unknown injuries to your person. You could wake up tomorrow with neck pain that lasts for months. With the adrenaline rush, it is difficult or impossible to assess your situation accurately.
Now is not the time to discuss your ideas about who is at fault or how to settle the damages. Now is the time to make sure that anyone with injuries gets the help they need.
Contact Your Attorney & Insurance (In that Order)
Before calling your insurance company, contact your attorney. Let your attorney give you perspective about what has happened and who is actually at fault. Your insurance company has one goal: to pay as little as possible for your damages and injuries. Even if they try to be fair about it, their goal is to keep the costs low.
Call your agent only to report the accident and find out how to start the claims process. Your agent can help you complete the forms required to proceed with your claim. However, do not complete the forms or discuss the accident before speaking with your attorney. Do not let a claims representative take a recorded statement from you without your attorney present.
If another individual is responsible for your damages, you or your attorney will need to contact their insurance agent. The insurance adjuster investigating the accident will attempt to determine who is negligent or at-fault.
Be Very Careful
North Carolina is not a no-fault state. North Carolina is an at-fault (or “tort”) state. That means that someone is considered “at-fault” for each accident. If you cause an accident 100%, your insurance pays out to cover the damages involved.
North Carolina Contributory Negligence Law can stop you from collecting damages if you are determined to be partially at fault. If you contribute any percentage of fault to an accident, you may not collect any damages from the other driver’s insurance company. (1)
If you disagree with the decision made by police or insurance adjusters about fault, you may need to take your argument to a court of law.
The Most Important Thing
Whether your injuries and damages are paid for depends partially on what you say. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to hire an attorney at the outset of an auto accident. Be careful what you say and consult your attorney before admitting any fault whatsoever. Sharing the fault with the other driver could mean thousands of more dollars you pay for injuries or damages to your car.
If you are looking for an experienced traffic attorney to tackle your auto claim or personal injury issues, contact us at Hogan, Edwards, and Blue. We want to come alongside you in this process so that you receive a fair and complete settlement for your damages and injuries. We have walked many through this journey and would like to be there for you too. Give us a call or contact us online today to find an ally in this fight.