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A car accident can be a stressful experience, and even more so if you are at fault. It is important to take accountability for your actions after an accident, but it is equally important to ensure that your rights are protected in the process.
First, it is important to understand the difference between accidents that things are considered “at-fault” and those where no fault is assigned. Some states are known as “no-fault” states because each driver, or their insurance, covers their own medical expenses. In other states, the driver who is identified as the person at fault for the accident must cover those expenses, or their insurance company must cover them. In some cases, the drivers involved in the accident share fault for the incident.
While you may not know which type of fault is assigned in your state, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you navigate the sometimes confusing laws and rules around accidents. Even if you believe you are at fault in the accident, a lawyer can help investigate the incident to determine if there are other factors impacting it. If you attempt to handle the matter on your own because you believe you are at fault, you may be subjecting yourself to serious financial consequences and serious criminal charges if you do not handle the matter properly.
That is why it is important to contact an experienced car accident lawyer, such as Nicolet Law (www.nicoletlaw.com), to protect your interests after an accident, even if it is your fault. In addition to consulting a lawyer, here are some things you should do if you are involved in an accident.
Report the Accident
You should make sure the police are contacted about the accident so a report is filed. Even if there are no injuries and police choose not to come to the scene, reporting the accident will generate an incident report. This documents the cars involved, the names of the drivers and potential witnesses, a description of the road and weather conditions, and other important information.
Swap information with the other drivers involved in the accident, including their names, contact information, insurance information, and license plate numbers. It is also a good idea to take photos, if possible of the accident scene and of each car involved in the accident. A photo of the drivers and passengers is also useful to document whether any injuries are evident at the scene.
Contact Your Insurance Company
You should report the accident as soon as possible to your insurance company. If you do not do this, it could jeopardize your coverage in the accident. Avoid acknowledging blame in any conversation. You can explain that the matter is being reviewed and the results of any investigation will be shared in the case. Share any information you collected from the accident scene with your insurance company.
Consult With Your Lawyer
If you believe you are at fault for the accident, your lawyer can help ensure that your insurance covers the expenses and represent you if the coverage does not cover all of the costs of the accident. An injured driver can sue you for any damages not covered by your insurance, so you will want to make sure your interests are protected. This is why it is important not to admit fault to any party during the accident investigation. Allow your lawyer to handle these discussions. Your lawyer also may determine you are only partially at fault, which means some of the damage must be covered by the other driver.