Auto Accidents: What To Do When It’s Your Fault

If you get into a car accident and you believe the accident is your fault, the first to do is not admit fault. Do not tell the other driver, anyone in the other car, the police, or anyone else
that the accident was your fault. Even if you really believe that it was your fault, you don't have all the necessary information in the moments after an accident, and it's a hectic time.

Keep your conversations with the other driver and the passengers in the other neutral.
-- Don’t talk about how the accident happened.
-- Don't get into any discussion of who might have been at fault.
-- Don't say "I'm sorry" or make any similar statement that can be construed as an admission of fault by other drivers or witnesses.

Don’t ask the other driver how fast he or she was going, or “How could you not see me?”, or anything else that hints at fault (and don't answer these kinds of questions if they are posed to you). It's probably best just to ask the other driver if anyone was hurt, exchange your contact and insurance information with him or her (and with anyone else who was involved in the accident) then wait until the police arrive. Don’t get into an argument with the other driver. Make sure to stay polite and cordial. Don’t accuse the other driver of anything, and don’t get angry if the other driver accuses you. Just walk away and wait for the police to arrive.

Call the police after a car accident. Many states have a law requiring the
police to be informed if a car accident causes bodily injury or property
damage that exceeds $500 or $1,000. Depending on the circumstances
of the accident, and where it takes place, law enforcement may or may not
respond to the scene, but it's best to at least give them the opportunity to
do so. Be honest with police when they ask what occurred. Make sure to take
time to review in your own mind how you believe the accident happened.

If you have a camera or a camera phone & are able to take pictures, take as
many pictures of the accident scene and of the damage to both vehicles as
you can before you leave the scene. Also take pictures of any skid marks on
the road, stop signs, speed limit signs in the area, and other traffic control devices. 

Make sure to get the names of any passengers in the other car, as well as the
driver. If there were any witnesses in other cars or on the sidewalk, try to
get their names and contact information, if they will give it.

 

Make sure to call your insurance company to report the accident as soon as
possible, and certainly no later than the next day after the accident. Every insurance
policy has a requirement that the insured (you) cooperate with the insurance company.
If the insured does not cooperate with the insurance company, the insurance company
can deny insurance coverage for an accident. Don’t take a chance on this. Don’t wait.
If you get into a car accident and think that you might be at fault for the accident, call your
insurance company that day or the next day at the latest and tell them exactly what happened.

Let your insurance company know you’re getting your car fixed so that it can get
someone out to your car to take pictures.

Many states require drivers to file an accident report, in addition to calling the
police, if they get into a car accident that causes bodily injury or a certain amount
of property damage. Some states require that the report be filed with the state DMV;
other states require that the report be filed with the local police department. The report
usually has to be filed within a short period of time, generally ten days or two weeks.
You can get a copy of the report form at your local police station or online at your DMV
website.

If you're at fault for a car accident, your insurance premium will probably increase
for at least several years. The laws differ from state to state with respect to how long
an accident can stay on your record, but you should be prepared for it to stay on your
record for up to seven years.