What to do if you’re in an accident

Millions of automobile accidents occur in the United States – about a third involve personal injury or death.   If you’re in an accident, here are seven key things you should do.

1)  Stop the vehicle.   Never leave the accident scene; you can face criminal prosecution.  The rare exception:  if there’s a minor accident in a remote or isolated location where you are or you could be in danger of an assault or robbery, go to the nearest safe location and immediately call the police.

2)  Call the police to document what took place, even if you don’t think there are serious injuries.   Any insurance company will want to see a police report.

3)  Check on all drivers and passengers to determine if anyone needs medical attention.  Don’t move an unconscious or seriously injured person before medical help arrives unless danger such as fire, drowning, etc. requires immediately moving them.

4)  Report what happened truthfully to the police.   Get any witnesses’ names and contact information.  Don’t apologize or accept any blame at the accident scene.  If you’re not seriously injured and have a cell phone camera, take pictures to show what happened, any collision damage, and cause of accident.

5)  If anyone was injured, hire an experienced attorney for legal advice.  If you’re at fault, your insurance company will likely provide a lawyer to defend you if a settlement can’t be reached.  If you’re injured and not at fault, most lawyers will represent you on a contingent fee basis, receiving a percentage of damages awarded.

6)  Be careful.  Speak to a lawyer first, and understand your rights before discussing the accident with anyone else.  Do NOT talk to an insurance representative without your lawyer’s express knowledge.  Frequently, insurance adjustors representing the other parties will try to get an injured person to acknowledge that he was to some degree to blame.  In NC, contributory negligence prevents a person with any degree of fault from receiving any recovery.

7)  Do not accept any insurance company’s settlement offer until you’re certain all your physical injuries have been treated and you’re compensated for any future medical treatment you may require.   Your attorney can help determine expectations regarding future medical costs, disability, future pain, lost wages, etc.  Once you accept a settlement, you can’t go back for additional compensation.

The lawyers at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. have been helping people injured in automobile accidents for over 30 years.  Contact us at 704-844-1400 to be sure you know your legal rights and obligations.

M. David Bland is a partner and civil litigation attorney who handles personal injury cases.  Contact David at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. at (704) 844-1400.  The information contained in this article is general in nature and not to be taken as legal advice nor to establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and M. David Bland or the law firm of Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A.

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Trusted since 1982, Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. serves clients in North Carolina and South Carolina. Located in the town of Matthews between Mecklenburg and Union Counties in North Carolina, we’ve proudly provided legal services throughout Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill, Stallings, Indian Trail, Monroe, Marvin, Wesley Chapel, Weddington, Waxhaw, the Ballantyne area, and other surrounding communities in the Greater Charlotte region.  Our clients range from national corporations and major banking institutions to individuals and local companies.  We provide the best possible legal representation and advocacy, upholding our main client-focused cornerstones:  Helping. Planning. Protecting.