Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience for anyone. Because these incidents can happen in seconds without any warning, it’s perfectly normal for people to feel at a loss for what to do in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
However, these are some of the most crucial moments for you. The things you do or don’t do in this time period can affect your financial compensation options, how the car insurance will handle your case, and the way a car accident lawyer and the courts will examine your incident. Because of that, knowing the do’s and don’ts of an accident scene can make all the difference.
What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
After a crash has occurred, it’s important to act quickly but above all, keep a calm head. There are going to be many things happening at once. Not only will you have to deal with your own disorientation and the possibility of injury or pain, but other people may also be involved, whether they’re well-meaning bystanders or the occupants of the other vehicle.
There are some steps you can take directly after you regain your bearings. In order, after assessing your own personal injuries, you should do the following:
- Turn the hazard lights on and get out of the way of other vehicles if it’s possible to do so safely
- Contact the police
- Document the damages through notes and pictures
- Exchange information with the other driver in order to deal with insurance later
It can feel like a lot to keep track of in the moment, but these are all crucial steps for handling matters of compensation later on. This is especially true concerning the documentation of the accident. You will want to have as much evidence as possible in order to support your claims. In some cases, sources even suggest interviewing bystanders at the scene to collect statements and information. However, your top priority should be to keep yourself safe and prevent further damage from happening to your car or person.
You should try to maintain a calm and polite demeanor throughout the interaction. Both you and the other driver will likely be stressed, agitated, and upset. This can lead to arguments if the tension boils over, which will likely only aggravate the situation. Deal with the other driver calmly, and interact with any police officers who show up on the scene in a respectful way as well.
What Should You Avoid Doing After a Car Accident?
There are a number of things to avoid doing. In terms of behavior, this includes getting aggressive with the opposing driver or acting antagonistically toward law enforcement. You should also avoid inspecting your car in detail on the spot; leave that for a later time and place. You may want to contact your car accident lawyer or insurance company quickly, but you won’t want to have an in-depth conversation at the scene.
However, the biggest thing you should never do is leave the scene of the accident. Even if you feel like it’s taking a long time for the crash to be documented, you should always remain on-site. Leaving the scene of a crash can open you up for the possibility of being accused of a hit-and-run, even if you do not find yourself to be responsible.
It should be noted that you can be accused of a hit-and-run if you leave before the investigation is officially finished, even if you do remain at the crash for some time. It’s of key importance to ask police when you can leave and ensure that everything has been wrapped up before you do.
Finally, you can face additional penalties for leaving the scene even if you aren’t responsible for the accident. It could even jeopardize your chances of seeking compensation.
Hit-and-Run Penalties in Wyoming
Similarly, hit-and-run charges in Wyoming can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalties can be severe depending on the specific charges that are brought up against you:
- Jail time: Wyoming can meter out a year in prison for hit-and-runs, depending on the level of injury sustained.
- Fines: Wyoming may fine you up to $5,000 if convicted
- License penalties: Your license can be either revoked or suspended. The period can range from six months upward, all the way to a lifetime revocation depending on the circumstances.
- Financial penalties: This comes in two different forms: civil consequences and having to deal with insurance. Insurance companies will often cancel the policies of anyone who is convicted of a hit-and-run. Civil consequences relate to any court expenses that will be accrued as a result, as it’s highly possible you may be sued for damages. Note that while a jury may award $10,000 in damages, it isn’t uncommon for judges to triple the amount due to the reckless nature of hit-and-run accidents.
Additionally, car insurance companies will not cover damages wrought by hit-and-run crashes if you are accused of being the cause. This means that all of the expenses will need to be covered out of pocket, which can be a hefty chunk of money.
Should You Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?
It’s never a bad idea to contact a car accident lawyer after getting into an accident regardless of the circumstances behind it. Attorneys can act as your allies when you’re facing your insurance companies or if you have to take the other party to court in order to get the compensation you deserve.
The immediate aftermath of an accident is hectic, but that chaos can last for a long time after the fact. You’ll likely be dealing with plenty of expenses, from car damages to hospital costs and perhaps even lost wages if you need to take time off work for recovery. Dealing with these legal issues on top of convalescence can be stressful and hectic for just about anyone, which is why having an experienced car accident lawyer on your side can be of such crucial importance.
You can contact The Wyoming Advocates here or by phone at 307-466-0003 at any time to speak to an attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve. Your full recovery is the Wyoming Advocates first priority. You deserve an Advocate!