Most drivers have no idea what to do first after a car accident. In most incidents, concern for others takes over relatively quickly and everyone goes to everyone else’s aid. This is definitely important and shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s the next 15 minutes where all the mistakes are made. The problem is those mistakes can cost a driver their insurance, their driver’s license and in extreme cases their freedom. 

Attorneys at car injury law firms will tell you it is crucial you make no mistakes in your handling of a car accident. There is simply too much at stake. If you want to be well prepared for the eventuality of an accident the next time you take the wheel, here are some things to consider. 

Remain Silent 

Under no circumstances should you answer any questions posed by police officers. By and large your answers to questions should be limited to those you are legally required to answer. You should provide all the necessary documents when asked. You should make certain your counterparties have what you are legally required to provide them. However, you should not get into a discussion of the details, who was doing what and when, or any disputes over fault, the state of repair of any vehicle, or apologies given or solicited. 

The thing to remember, aside from the civil liability you may be facing is the fact that criminal liability could be present at any accident scene. It takes little more than the wrong thing said at the wrong time to entangle you in a potential criminal investigation. It is always better to avoid such misunderstandings. Follow the advice your auto injury lawyer would agree is the best advice: Keep your mouth shut. 

Lock Your Car

This is one of those things nobody ever thinks about at the time, but that can come back to bite them later when they least expect it. What is inside your car is your business. So it makes perfect sense to move your property from the inside of your car to the trunk, roll up all the windows and lock the car unless you are sitting in it. 

Why is this important? For the same reason that keeping silent is important. All it takes is for a police officer to walk by your car, glance inside, see something curious and then sit down in your driver’s seat for a little uninvited search. The next thing you know, you’re looking at a medium-sized legal nightmare that may or may not have anything to do with the accident, but will have everything to do with you. 

However, if there’s nothing in your car and it is locked, your car accident personal injury lawyer will have a much easier time defending you against the police officer’s extracurricular exploratory activities. While you’re getting in the habit of securing your vehicle, remember to never consent to any search of your person or property, regardless of what stories the police tell you. 

Identify Witnesses

Everyone at the accident scene has a legal duty to truthfully testify as to their observations and experiences. So make sure you know who they all are. For other drivers, this is easy, as you will be taking photographs of their licenses and insurance information with your mobile phone. But those aren’t the only witnesses. Get photos of every police officer’s name tag and badge and do the same for first responders. Get the license plates of the emergency vehicles too. 

If there are any bystanders, try to get their statements on video at the scene. Get their information as well if you can, but try to get their statements early. Car injury law firms can make use of reliable witness statements. While they are talking, turn the camera to get a shot of the accident at least once. Then you can’t be accused of staging the witness statement later. 

Gather Evidence 

You have a magical device that accident investigators of yesteryear would have been grateful to own. It’s the camera with unlimited film in your mobile phone. If there were ever a device invented for investigations, this is it. You should get photographs of all the damage to your own car for starters. Then do the same for all other involved vehicles. Try to photograph the interior of all other involved vehicles too if you can. 

Photograph all the license plates at the scene and make sure you get shots of all the nearby traffic signals, signs and road markings. If there are any unusual road or weather conditions, document them. 

If there are any surveillance cameras in the vicinity, photograph them too. You may be able to return later and collect their footage to get different angles and a live shot of the accident itself. If you see any automatic teller machines, public transit stops, banks or convenience stores nearby they will likely have surveillance cameras that may have captured the accident as well. 

If at all possible, install a dash camera at your earliest opportunity. A car accident personal injury lawyer can capitalize on dash cam footage if the case goes to trial. The footage from a live dash cam can also make the difference if there is any dispute as to the cause or circumstances of the accident. Naturally, the dash cam can also be used to monitor the aftermath and demonstrate the cooperation or lack thereof by other parties to the accident. 

Any auto injury lawyer will tell you it is the driver who can reconstruct an accident scene at a much later date who will have the legal advantage in the event of a dispute. Evidence is everything in a court of law. 

While it might seem that this level of preparation is wishful thinking, the reverse is actually the key to winning if your accident ends up in court. Preparation is what will set you apart from drivers who would rather deal with higher insurance premiums, less certainty and the risk of losing their driving privilege. There is no need for you to risk any of these things if you know what to expect and are ready to handle it.