Hopefully, you'll never be in a situation where you get into a car accident. Unfortunately, many people will be involved in at least one auto accident at some point in their lives, which is why it's so important to be as prepared as possible. There are a lot of mistakes you can make in the moments and days following your first car accident, so by making yourself aware of a few of the most common and avoiding them yourself, you can work towards a better outcome.
Admitting or Implying Fault
Even if you feel like the accident was obviously your fault (for example, you rear-ended somebody), it's never a good idea to apologize, admit fault, or even imply that an auto accident may have been your fault. This is something that could come back to bite you, especially if it turns out that the other driver involved was actually at-fault for the accident.
Not Gathering Documentation
One of the most important things you can do immediately after getting into an accident (aside from calling 9-1-1 if there are injuries) is to get the insurance and contact information from the other parties involved. You'll need to provide yours as well. If there were any witnesses to the accident, this would also be a good time to gather their contact information or see if they'll stick around to provide a statement to police.
Skipping the Police Report
Speaking of police, understand that most auto insurance companies will want a copy of the police report associated with your accident; this is especially important in states where fault is assigned in an accident. The only exception to this would be a situation where an accident occurred 100% on private property, such as in a driveway.
Accepting the First Settlement Offer
If you end up injured or with damage to your car as a result of an accident that was another driver's fault, there's a good chance you'll soon receive a settlement offer from the driver's insurance company. In most cases, this will be a low-ball offer, so it's best to consult with an experienced car accident attorney before you accept. He or she will be able to give you a better idea of what your case is actually worth.
If you've never been in a car accident before, be sure to keep this information in mind to protect yourself if needed in the future.