Steps Montana motorists should take after experiencing a car accident

After a car accident, it’s important for Montana drivers to know which authorities to contact, what evidence to preserve and what other steps to take.

Car accidents pose a significant risk to even the most vigilant and experienced drivers in Belgrade. In 2013 alone, 20,385 of these accidents occurred in Montana. Although the majority were not serious, it is still essential for motorists in the state to understand what to do after a car accident. Taking the following steps can help motorists protect their rights and improve their likelihood of successfully seeking recourse after auto accidents that cause injury or death.

Contact authorities

According to CNN, immediately after an accident occurs, drivers should report the accident to the appropriate authorities. These include:

  • Medical personnel. Drivers should secure attention for themselves or any passengers who may have been injured in the accident.
  • Police. Drivers should make an official police report to ensure that, if an insurance claim is eventually necessary, the accident is properly documented.
  • Insurance companies. Drivers should also promptly report accidents to their insurers to reduce the risk of claim denial later.

Drivers should also remember that they are not obligated to speak immediately with another driver's insurance provider. In serious accidents, drivers may even benefit from consulting with a professional, such as an auto accident attorney, before doing so.

Gather evidence

According to CNN and U.S. News, after reporting an auto accident, drivers should take time to preserve any information that may serve as evidence later. If possible, drivers should take photographs of both vehicles and the spot where the accident occurred. Drivers should also record their recollections of the accident, since these memories may become less clear or accurate over time.

If third parties witnessed the accident or were involved in minor ways, drivers should request their contact information. These parties may be able to corroborate a driver's report or provide accounts that offer new insights.

Exchange information

Finally, drivers should trade contact and insurance information before parting ways. This information includes personal names, addresses and phone numbers; vehicle make, model, VIN and descriptions; and insurance company and policy information.

The Huffington Post notes that many people think they can save money and avoid insurance claims by making direct agreements with other drivers. However, this approach isn't without risks. For example, one driver may fail to uphold his or her side of the deal. Additionally, these arrangements overlook the risk of injuries that don't become apparent until later. Some serious personal injuries, such as brain injuries, may merit insurance claims, but this might not be an option if an accident was not reported.

Keep legal options open

U.S. News advises drivers to avoid admitting fault after an accident, especially if it was serious or resulted in injuries. Admissions of fault can prevent injury victims from securing full compensation later, even if other people were also at fault in the accident. To avoid harmful missteps, drivers should consider consulting promptly with a car accident attorney who can offer advice on their legal rights and the next steps in dealing with the accident.