No one is truly prepared to be involved in an accident, which is why wrecks can make for frightening and chaotic experiences. While accidents happen for many different reasons, including driver error, it is important to remember that your initial assessment of what caused the crash may not always be correct – there may be facts and circumstances you are unaware of, even if you believe the accident was your fault.
To help ensure you take the right steps following a car accident, including one you believe you might have caused or contributed to, our legal team at Richard Schwartz & Associates Injury Lawyer, P.A. wanted to provide the following information.
Remain at the scene – Following an accident, and especially any accident resulting in vehicle damage, injuries, or death, you are obligated by Mississippi law to stop and remain at the scene. You also need to provide assistance to any victims, when necessary, by rendering aid or calling for emergency medical attention. Failing to do so can result in criminal charges.
Don’t discuss fault – Avoiding discussions of fault is important after any wreck, including one you believe you might have caused. Remember, you don’t yet have all the facts about what happened or led to the crash, and discussing or admitting fault can put you in a tough position should it be discovered that the other driver actually caused or contributed to the collision in some way (such as if they were driving distracted or driving drunk).
Avoid saying “sorry” – Apologizing and saying “sorry” is often a natural reaction for people who find themselves bumping into others while walking or milling about, but it is always something to be avoided after a car wreck. That’s because saying “sorry” can be interpreted as an admission of guilt, especially by insurance companies, and it can be used against you, even if you later learn you didn’t actually cause the wreck or were not entirely at fault.
Call the police – Calling law enforcement is a wise decision after an accident, as a responding law enforcement officer can arrive at the scene to gather information, speak with drivers and witnesses, and compile their findings in an objective police report. This report can prove useful in any personal injury or insurance matter you need to handle at a later time.
Collect information – Gathering as much information as you can will aid you in your case. This means exchanging information with other involved drivers (name, contact info, driver’s license, etc.), and taking pictures of vehicle damage and the scene of an accident. If there were things that contributed to your wreck, such as a broken traffic signal or obscured sign, take pictures of that as well.
Call an attorney – If you were injured in your accident, but have concerns about the role you played and whether you were at fault, calling an experienced personal injury attorney should be a priority. By speaking with a proven lawyer like those at Richard Schwartz & Associates Injury Lawyer, P.A., you can better understand your rights and the laws that apply to your case, including comparative negligence. By conducting thorough investigations into your wreck, including the actions made by both you and the other driver, we can help you understand if you have a right to seek compensation for your damages.
Understand the law – If you are concerned about causing a collision, remember that there may be other elements involved that you don’t know about, including the conduct of the other driver involved. Even if your actions did contribute to the crash in some way, you should understand that because Mississippi adheres to a comparative negligence system. This means you may still be entitled to a recovery of your damages if the other driver or another party contributed to your wreck, though your compensation would be reduced by your own percentage of fault in causing the wreck, if it is determined you did contribute.
Notify your insurance provider – Notifying your insurance carrier of any accident you were involved in is a necessity, even if you fear repercussions associated with causing the wreck. Remember, determinations of fault can be made once you have all the facts.
Because every auto accident case is unique, and because there are many factors that can cause a wreck, you should be focused on taking the right steps, obtaining the facts, and working with a lawyer who can help you navigate issues that arise when your accident and injuries may have been caused in part by your own fault. Remember, under state laws, you may still have a right to recover damages if the other driver, or another party, contributed in some way.
To learn more about taking the next steps following an accident, call (601) 869-0696 for a FREE consultation.