You may not want to think that you will be in a car accident but with collisions occurring every day, the probability of this happening is high. According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Bergen County was the scene of 32,733 crashes in 2011. While some of these car accidents may have been attributed to driver error, such as running off the road or hitting a stationary object, others were caused by people who were driving in a reckless manner or simply not paying attention.
However, by preparing ahead of time for such an event, you can save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in legal issues that can arise.
Insurance policies are designed to be a form of protection in the event that you are in an accident but have you really given a lot of thought to what your particular policy includes? If your car was disabled in a car accident, does your policy provide towing or a rental car until you receive your vehicle back? Do you know what you would have to pay out of your pocket in terms of deductible before your insurance kicks in?
If the answer is no, then you need to sit down and read carefully through your policy and perhaps make changes to it so that you have the protections you need. You should also keep your insurance company’s contact information at easy reach so that you can notify them immediately if you are involved in a crash.
Being in an accident can throw you into a state of shock and you may say things that could be interpreted as an admittance of guilt. Therefore it would be a good idea to prepare yourself ahead of time for what you should and shouldn’t say.
For example, if someone asks you if you are alright, Squawkfox recommends being careful in making replies that could get you into a legal mess later on. The key is to simply make a statement that implies the possibility of injury but that doesn’t come right out and say it. Saying “I’m shaken up” or “I don’t feel well” gives you leeway just in case an injury appears later.
You should also never volunteer more information than what you are asked for by a law enforcement officer. Offering additional information could work against you and result in you receiving the citation.
Edmunds emphasizes the importance of collecting information, or evidence about the collision. This evidence includes:
Names of witnesses and contact information
Names of drivers and contact information
Medical records (if you are injured) and doctors’ statements
By gathering as much information as you can, you will be able to present a better case to support your claims with an insurance company, and later on, if you have to go to court to pursue compensation. If you are in a car accident, you should also immediately call an experienced attorney who can guide you safely through the process.