5 mistakes drivers in Massachusetts should avoid after a car accident

After car crashes, many drivers may forget to report the accident, gather information and evidence, refrain from discussing fault and seek legal advice.

Each year, tens of thousands of people in Massachusetts experience auto accidents. Just in 2012, over 108,000 motor vehicle accidents occurred statewide, according to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. More than 4,300 of these incidents resulted in severe injuries.

For many motorists, an auto accident may be a traumatic and shocking experience. Unfortunately, this can put drivers at risk for making harmful mistakes immediately after a crash occurs. Most motorists in Worcester can benefit from preparing for an accident by understanding what missteps to avoid afterward.

1. Not reporting it

Many drivers may fail to report accidents to local authorities and to their insurance providers, especially if an accident seems minor at the time. However, this can prevent drivers from securing adequate compensation if another motorist was at fault. U.S. News notes that calling the police to report a serious accident can be especially beneficial, as this can ensure that a neutral person is on hand to help document the circumstances and create a formal report.

Failing to notify authorities of a car accident can also be a legal violation in Massachusetts. According to materials from the Department of Transportation, drivers have just five days to file a written report of any crash that causes injury or death. Similarly, drivers must file a report if an accident results in at least $1,000 of property damage.

2. Overlooking key information

It's also important for drivers to collect several pieces of information prior to leaving the scene of an accident, according to U.S. News. These include:

  • The other driver's contact information
  • Information about the other vehicle, such as the make, model and plate number
  • The other driver's insurance information

Drivers will generally need this information to complete the official accident report and file an insurance claim.

3. Leaving without evidence

Drivers who aren't physically incapacitated should also look for ways to preserve evidence of the accident and the other motorist's role in it. Drivers can take photographs of the damage to each vehicle and any other visible indications of the accident, such as skid marks or debris. Drivers should also ask for the contact information of any eyewitnesses who saw the accident and may be able to help describe how it occurred.

4. Describing fault or injuries

Drivers should avoid talking about their physical condition or their role in an accident immediately afterward. Many drivers may state that they didn't sustain injuries, or they may admit partial fault. However, car crash injuries such as soft tissue trauma may not be apparent immediately, and an investigation of the crash may later show that the other driver was also partly at fault. Sadly, drivers who prematurely say they are fine or admit fault may have more difficulty recovering compensation later.

5. Forgoing legal help

If an accident initially seems minor or if the fault of the other driver appears clear, many drivers may consider navigating the claim process independently. However, this can put accident victims at risk for making unnecessary mistakes and losing out on compensation that they may be entitled to. To reduce this risk, drivers may benefit from at least consulting with an attorney about their options and rights soon after an accident occurs.