3 essential steps to take after experiencing a car crash in Minnesota
After a serious car crash, victims should gather evidence and information, contact authorities, avoid admitting responsibility and speak to a lawyer.
Many drivers in Saint Paul have never been involved in a car accident and do not expect to experience one. Still, thousands of serious car crashes occur in Minnesota each year. According to the state’s Department of Public Safety, in 2014 alone, motorists across the state experienced over 78,000 accidents, which resulted in more than 29,000 injuries.
A car crash can be a shocking experience, and many people may not know what to do immediately afterward. Unfortunately, mistakes in the wake of an accident can lead to legal trouble or even preclude a victim from seeking recourse for his or her injuries. This makes it critical for drivers to know what steps to take after an accident occurs.
1. Report it
Under Minnesota law, drivers are required to stop at the scene of an accident and contact law enforcement if necessary. Within 10 days, drivers must file written reports of any crash that causes injury, death or over $1,000 of property damage. However, as U.S. News notes, reporting an accident immediately is often advisable, as this can bring a neutral third party to the scene to document the circumstances of the crash.
Although drivers are not legally required to report auto accidents to their insurance providers, they should do so immediately. Failure to report an accident may prevent a driver from making a claim later. Some motorists may be tempted to reach a direct agreement with the other involved party, but drivers should remember that these agreements have potential to fall through.
2. Collect information and evidence
Drivers who are not physically incapacitated should take several steps to gather crucial information before departing the scene of an accident. According to U.S. News, these include:
- Collecting personal, vehicle and insurance information from the other driver
- Looking for eyewitnesses and taking down their contact information
- Preserving evidence of the accident by taking photographs of the scene
- Recording any immediate recollections of the accident
These measures can help ensure that authorities and insurance providers have as much information as possible to work with when investigating the accident.
3. Consult with a lawyer
If an accident was serious enough to cause injuries, victims should also consider meeting with an attorney to review their rights and options. A car accident attorney may be able to help investigate an accident, assess liability and evaluate a victim’s damages. Additionally, an attorney may be able to assist a person in documenting the incident and seeking reasonable recompense.