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Car accidents happen every day. Often, when a person causes an accident, their first instinct is to apologize and admit fault. However, in many situations, it is best to just be civil, handle the situation by the book, and even if you are at fault, call the police if tensions rise.
Most states simply require drivers to exchange contact and insurance information so long as there are no injuries, and/or the damage is not significant. You do not have to talk about what happened with the other party. Below are 5 tips to help in case you're liable in a car accident.
1. Have Adequate Auto Insurance
Having adequate auto insurance to cover you in case of an accident is crucial. If you don't know what your coverages are, then take the time to find out ASAP. While states have mandatory minimums when it comes to insurance coverage, the more you have to lose, the higher you should set your coverages. Additionally, even if you do not have much to lose monetarily, you may still want to consider having higher liability coverage in order to protect your own passengers in case you are at fault.
2. Have Excess or Umbrella Coverage
If you own your own home, or have a mortgage, you likely already have home owners insurance. Most policies for mortgage holders tend to have provisions for excess liability or umbrella coverage, which is meant to cover liability that exceeds the policy limits of your auto policy in order to protect your home from judicial foreclosures.
3. Don't Admit Fault, Especially on Social Media
While it may be clear to you that the accident was your fault, admitting it to police could land you a moving violation. Most states require that officers actually witness the traffic violation leading to the accident to issue a ticket, however, if you admit to a violation, an officer may still be able to cite you.
Additionally, don't admit fault to the other party, or post about being at fault on social media.
4. Think Carefully About Taking Pictures
While many attorneys will tell you that taking pictures at the scene is always a good idea, exercising discretion and good judgment is just as important. It's best to not needlessly make the situation look worse than it might be.
If the damage is minimal, taking pictures at the scene could be helpful in preventing someone from claiming the damages were worse. However, if you are at fault, and the crash scene looks bad, you may want to consider not taking photos at all unless you see someone else taking pictures. Another option would be to wait until the ambulance leaves, or until the scene has been cleaned up a bit or cars moved out of the roadway.
5. Beware Accident Fraudsters
Believe it or not, there are fraudsters on the road who are intentionally looking to make someone cause an accident. It is always advisable to pay very close attention to the drivers around you on the road. Knowing about many of these scams might just be enough to help you avoid them.