By Marc Emden, Esq.
While causing an car accident can cause stress, there are good and bad ways to handle a wreck.
If you truly caused the accident, like a rear end collision, first admit it to yourself: “I probably messed up.” This step will help you focus on your legal responsibilities.
Speak to the Other Driver and Assess the Situation
Next, you should speak to the other driver and determine if they need medical assistance and help them by calling for medical help, if necessary. You need not admit that you were at fault to the other driver, but can explain if you wish factually what happened. For example, explain that you stopped and applied the brakes but couldn’t stop in time or simply, “I did not see you,” will hit the mark. Do not get into any further discussion about fault or speed of the cars, etc.
Being compassionate with the injured driver helps. Being stoic or indifferent won’t help. If the case ever goes to trial, lawyers for the injured party will use your indifference to the suffering of their client against you. Treating someone whom you hurt with compassion will endear you to a judge or jury hearing the case.
Take Photographs of the Accident Scene
Taking photographs and obtaining the names and telephone numbers of witnesses will help the insurance company investigate the case. If your car is drivable, move it to a position of safety; oftentimes, police officers do not want you to block traffic.
If you believe however, that you were not at fault, wait until the police tell you to move your car; but take photographs of the involved cars. Photographs will help you substantiate your claim later.
Review Your Car Insurance Policy
After things calm down, you should acquaint yourself with the deductible amounts which your insurance company will require you to pay in an accident. In Maryland, fault is determined by the police and the insurance company for the at fault driver. If the case goes to court, then either a judge or jury will determine legal fault.
If you are at fault, and carry collision insurance on your car, then you must pay the first $250, $500, or $1000 (deductible) of the repair bill on your car.
In addition to liability (at fault) coverage, Maryland offers each driver personal injury protection coverage (PIP) for between $2500 and $10,000 in payments to each person in the at fault driver’s car for the cost of medical bills and lost wages.
Despite the stress of the accident and your aversion to paying high premiums, keeping a clear mind, paying attention to detail, and acting humanely are still the best practices.
Marc Emden of Emdenlaw has been practicing personal injury law for over 30 years.