Most of us go through our days hardly ever thinking about criminal law, civil law, personal injury, or accidents. Those things just don’t seem relevant when there’s work to be done, kids to care for, and life to live. But in the blink of an eye, an accident can suddenly become very relevant.
No one ever intends to get into or cause an accident. Yet every year there are 6 million car accidents in the US alone, and 3 million of us will be injured in them. 1.2 million people will die in one worldwide. Car accidents account for an enormous amount, 52%, of America’s personal injury cases.
What should you do if you are in an accident? If you’re the victim of an accident, things are fairly straightforward. If you’re injured, you go to the hospital. You call the police. If the other party was at fault, you find a car accident attorney who knows civil and criminal law, and get some advice.
But what if you’ve caused the accident?
The first thing you need to do, of course, is check if anyone is injured, and, if so, call for medical help. Then you must make sure the police are called and that you’ve reported the basics of the accident to your own insurance company.
But once those things are taken care of, it’s smart to think about protecting yourself as much as possible. You don’t want to wiggle out of something that you are honestly at fault for. But there’s also no need to make things any worse for yourself than they must be.
For one thing, avoid discussing the accident itself with anyone until the police arrive. In the stress of a moment like this, it can be tempting to babble: that’s one of the ways we humans relieve stress. Try to avoid doing that, especially to bystanders or the other party in the accident. Be polite. Be compassionate if someone is injured. But resist the urge to explain yourself.
You may be quite sure that you are at fault; but it’s still best not to say so. For one thing, you may open yourself up for someone else to take advantage of you. For another, accidents happen so quickly that it is not unknown for a person to be quite certain they were responsible, only to find out from camera footage that they were not. Wait till the experts arrive and let them sort things out.
Next, consider whether you need the legal services of someone expert in criminal law. You might not even be sure what lawyers do; but a lawyer could be your best bet in this situation.
A car accident attorney should know criminal law and civil law well enough to advise you what to say, what to do, and to what degree you’re liable. If the injured party wants you to settle with them, an attorney can help you decide if that’s wise or not. If nothing else, a lawyer can provide you with peace of mind.
Before you’ve had a chance to consult an attorney, be sure not to sign anything or pay anything. Don’t negotiate with the other driver. As you describe the event to the police, stick to the facts. Avoid saying anything about how you feel or anything you think might have happened.
Finally, don’t go anywhere until the scene is settled. Any expert in criminal law can tell you that it’s a very bad idea to leave before you have all the information from the other driver and the police have done all they can.
A lot of people don’t have any idea what to do in the event of an accident. Don’t be one of those people. Accidents are always highly stressful moments. The best way to ensure things go smoothly is to think ahead of time about how you’ll behave, follow these general rules, and find help with a civil or criminal law professional if necessary.
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