5 Mistakes to Avoid After You Are Involved in a Car or Truck Accident
Car and truck accidents can happen in a split second, and the resulting injuries from urban collisions to high speed highway crashes can last a lifetime. A serious vehicular accident can change everything from your physical health and mobility, to cognition (brain injuries) and impact your social enjoyment, quality of life and economic well-being.
At time of publishing, The State of Oklahoma Highway Safety Office had not yet published the collision and crash data for 2018. However, in 2017 there were 10, 089 crashes in the State of Oklahoma; and 12,761 citizens who were injured as a result of a motor vehicle collision. Click here to view the data on the OHSO interactive map.
Do you know that to do, if are involved in an automotive collision? During a time of emotional distress and physical discomfort, it can be hard to ‘think straight’ but it is crucial to protect yourself and your family, by avoiding these five common mistakes.
1. Leaving the Scene of the Accident
Once you are able to shut off your vehicle, your next step should be to report the accident to the police, if they have not already arrived. You should exit your vehicle only if you feel it is safe to do so. If the other driver or passengers are acting in an aggressive manner, or trying to threaten or intimidate you, and your vehicle is not an injury threat to you, then simply lock your doors and remain inside your vehicle until highway enforcement officers arrive.
If you have been injured, make sure to tell 911 dispatch and provide as much information as you can. Do you have any open lacerations or cuts? Are you nauseous or feel that you may have fractured or broken bones as a result of the accident? That information will help First Responders on the scene to give you prompt medical care.
Never leave the scene of the accident. Even if it occurred close to your home, and you feel compelled to walk to try to get help. The moment you leave the scene of any motor vehicle collision, you are committing a crime in Oklahoma, and that will complicate your motor vehicle accident and legal proceedings.
2. Allow the Other Driver to Leave the Scene of the Collision
If you are not significantly injured and feel that it is safe to do so, you may exit your vehicle to talk to the other driver involved in the car or truck accident. Use your phone to take a picture of their driver’s license and insurance documentation. Take several pictures to make sure you have a clear one, then return to your vehicle to wait for highway enforcement to arrive.
While you are waiting, you will also want to take pictures or video of the other vehicle (all angles) and your own vehicle. Also discreetly take a picture of the driver and any passengers in the vehicle. If the other driver does not have adequate insurance, he or she may attempt to fraudulently ‘switch drivers. It is important to have photo evidence of the person operating the other vehicle, and all the participants of the collision.
Today many phones like the Google Pixel or iOS have an automatic storage and backup, but if your phone becomes damaged you may lose valuable evidence. While you are waiting, email this information to yourself to archive it for safe keeping.
3. Admit Fault for the Accident
It is human nature when you have been involved in an incident, to apologize or take blame for the collision. The truth is that you may not be at fault, even if it appears that you were, and you are not qualified to make that legal determination. Immediately following an accident, adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol can make you feel drowsy or confused and you may experience some difficulty thinking.
Limit your conversation with the other driver and passengers as much as possible. Exchange insurance and license information, document it, and then say nothing until the law enforcement officials arrive. They are the experts at determining the cause of an accident through years of highway and traffic experience. Simply share the information from your perspective of the collision, and allow the enforcement offers to assess the accident and driver at-fault.
4. Sign Documentation or Allow Yourself to Be Voice or Video Recorded
Be very careful. At Compton Law Firm, we have handled many motor vehicle collision cases where a clever at-fault driver has recorded audio or video of a shocked, and / injured accident victim. When your guard is down, it’s not hard to become confused about the facts.
Do not allow your statement to be voice recorded, or documented on video by the other driver, passengers or bystanders. And do not sign any documentation at the scene of the accident (with the exception of the report provided by law enforcement) until you have consulted with an attorney.
5. Discuss Your Case on Social Media with Family and Friends
When something bad happens to us, we all want to surround ourselves with the advice, love and support of our closest family and friends. And for some motor vehicle accident victims, that means taking it to Facebook to share what they are experiencing.
When emotions are high and you are involved in a situation that has legal repercussions, keep it off social media. Private messages in apps like Snapchat or Facebook Messenger can be subpoenaed in criminal, civil and personal injury liability cases. Don’t share it with anyone, until you have the report in hand from the law enforcement officer assessing the scene.
Call family members or friends, but do not share the information on social media. You can inaccurately and inadvertently complicate your case or incriminate yourself.
If you have enjoyed our recommendations for best-practice steps after a motor vehicle collision, share your comments with us and provide this article to your family and friends. Compton Law Firm offers seasoned trial lawyers that are experts in personal injury cases. Contact us for a consultation and legal guidance.