In an auto accident? Here is what you need to do.
A car accident can be stressful, scary, and anxiety-provoking. Good, law-abiding people can make mistakes under stress and in a chaotic situation.
If you are in an auto accident, you must follow the law or risk being charged with a crime.
“What should I do if I’m in a car accident?” If you get into an accident, here are the top 10 things you need to do right away. If you get a ticket, are charged with any criminal offense, or are injured, you will need a great lawyer to get you the best possible results.
- Get Help if Someone is Hurt – Call 911. If you, someone in your car or the occupant of another vehicle is injured, there is no justification for failing to call for emergency medical help. Failing to seek medical care can result in criminal charges, increased civil damages, and may unnecessarily exacerbate someone’s medical situation.
- Notify the Police – In Michigan, you are required to notify law enforcement before you can leave the scene if anyone is injured or there is any significant property damage. It is not sufficient to just exchange names, phone numbers, and insurance information with the other driver and then leave the scene. Leaving the scene of such an accident will likely result in criminal charges and a presumption that you were at fault.
- Get Crucial Identification Information – Get contact information from the other driver or drivers. Write down their name, address, car description, and phone numbers. If they refuse to give you the information, don’t try to force them or threaten them to get the information. Do not be confrontational. A responding police officer will help you get all this information
- Identify Potential Witnesses – Get the names and contact information of anyone who saw the accident. If you can, do this quickly. Often, people who saw the collision will stop for a short time, but leave before the police arrive. Other motorists, passengers, or pedestrians can be critical witnesses. Do not volunteer the names and addresses of the witnesses until after you see if you are being accused of causing the accident. You have no obligation to provide information against yourself. If you are not at fault and there is some doubt with the officer, the witnesses may play a critical role in your exoneration.
- Do Not Discuss or Admit Fault – If you are in a car accident, you should not blame the other driver or confront them even if they were clearly at fault. It may just start an argument. But, if the other driver admits it was their fault, make a mental note of it. When the officer arrives, you can relay the information at that time. Even if you feel you may have been partially at fault, do not say anything or make any admissions. This does not mean that you should lie, just do not make an admission. “Fault” is often a complex determination based on the facts and complicated laws. High emotions and feelings of guilt may cloud your judgment and a little time may help you get a better feel for the events.
- Write a Note to Yourself Afterward – After the accident write a note to yourself (and possibly for your attorney, if you later need one). Include all the information you have gathered and can remember while it is fresh in your mind. Explain how the accident happened as best as you can. Drawing a sketch or diagram of the collision will be a helpful memory aid later on. It may be months, or even years, before the insurance companies fully resolve any claims. There is a rule of evidence in Michigan called that may allow for the introduction of your memory if it is recorded immediately after the incident.
- Call Your Insurance Agent – All insurance policies require you to notify your insurance company. This must be done shortly after the accident. Unnecessary delay in telling your insurance company about the crash can result in a denial of your claim. If you are worried about being at fault or the possibility that you may have any type of criminal culpability, it would be a good idea to consult with an attorney before you make this call.
- Take Pictures if You Can – If you can, and it is safe, take pictures of the vehicles before they are moved. Pictures of the damage and position of the vehicles can be very important. After you get emergency care and are home, remember to take pictures of your injuries – any cuts, bruises or bandages, and any casts or crutches. It is particularly important to take a picture of any seat belt bruise on the front of your shoulders and chest.
- Fight Any Ticket or Criminal Charge – If you are ticketed or charged with any type of criminal offense (felony, misdemeanor, ordinance violation, or even a traffic misdemeanor), do not plead guilty or responsible without working with an experienced, Michigan criminal defense attorney. Even though you may feel you are guilty or responsible for a charge, an experienced attorney will likely be able to get the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss a charge or find another way to mitigate your damages.
- Find and Hire a Trusted, Experienced Defense Lawyer – There is no rational reason to agree to have a charge or conviction place on your record if there is a legitimate way to avoid it by working with a passionate, zealous, and tenacious criminal attorney or traffic lawyer.
Attorneys for Car Accidents, Civil Infractions, Misdemeanors, and Felonies Related to the Operation of a Motor Vehicle
If you need assistance with a criminal charge or traffic ticket or if you are injured in an accident, and you would like a free consultation with an experienced attorney in Michigan, do not hesitate to contact LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. We will find a way to help you. Similarly, if you are wondering, “what should I do if I’m in a car accident?” we will take the time to talk with you, answer all of your questions, and address each of your concerns.
Beware of those police, judges, and prosecutors in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, Livingston County, and Washtenaw County are particularly tough on these cases. When other lawyers may be afraid to stand up and fight for you, we are not afraid to win!
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.