The Actions to Take Immediately Following an Accident
The minutes and hours immediately following a car accident are some of the most critical you will face in connection with such an incident. An accident can be emotionally and physically damaging, and it is not uncommon for many people to experience shock under the circumstances, but it important to be intentional about remaining calm so that you can take in as much information as possible while you are on the scene.
First, it is extremely important that you do not admit guilt at the accident scene, even if you feel that you might indeed be the cause of the accident at the time. At this point, you only know your immediate and limited perspective definitively, and should not assume guilt. In fact, it is the policy of many insurance companies that an insurance policy be terminated if their covered driver makes a statement of assumed guilt, as this will generally assure a determination of fault on their covered driver’s side.
A little known fact is that even a simple apology to the other affected drivers and passengers on the scene can be used against you as an admition of guilt by insurance companies or the court, should your case end up in litigation. To be on the safe side, any legal professional will advise you to say as little as possible following an accident.
If the other driver or drivers approaches you and makes a statement of guilt, or provides information as to what they saw or experienced leading up to the accident, it is a good idea to record such information in written or recorded audio format, such as the voice memo function available on most current cell phones. This information may benefit your case once you can communicate with your insurance company or attorney should you find it necessary to seek legal counsel.
Helpful insight and evidence can also be gathered from witnesses to the accident such as bystanders or other drivers who may have stopped to assist at the scene. Conditions such as the condition of the road, traffic conditions and weather can also prove important. Again, recording this information with a camera, voice memo or through written notes on the scene will be critical once the accident scene is cleared and any disagreement regarding determination of guilt ensues.
Your statement to the law enforcement officer who arrives on the scene should be as direct and clear as possible, in an effort to paint a clear picture of exactly what you saw and heard leading up to and following the accident. This statement should include what was spoken to you by the other driver or drivers involved before the officers’ arrival.
It is also a good idea to seek medical attention following an accident, as injuries such as whiplash may not be immediately detectable but still serious. In addition, it is important to note that allowing time to pass before seeking such attention gives the opposing drivers’ insurance company or attorney reason to attempt to dismiss the severity of your injury.
Your best chance of protecting yourself from legal action by the other parties involved, and to reach the best settlement possible with an insurance company, is to have a trusted, experienced attorney by your side. Again, time will be of the essence in cases such as these, so we recommend that you reach out to us here at Gill Ladner and Priest as soon as possible.
The Ridgeland, Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Gill, Ladner & Priest Attorneys skillfully represent clients throughout Mississippi, including the communities of Jackson, Hattiesburg, Vicksburg, Tupelo, Biloxi, Gulfport, Meridian and Southaven, MS. Our accident injury lawyers also represent residents of the counties of Madison County, Hinds County and Rankin County, as well as other counties throughout the state of Mississippi.