Car Accident Basics

Last updated on: September 17, 2022

Car accidents are frightening, but they’re also commonplace. On the road, we can’t control the actions of those around us, and so even the driver should know what to do in case of a car accident. While the moments after a car accident may be chaotic or stressful, your handling of the situation in the moment could have a serious impact on any injury claim you may want to make, so remembering these basics is crucial.

Negligence and Car Accidents

On the road, there are numerous traffic laws to follow, but they aren’t the only things that govern drivers’ behavior. Every person is expected to drive with reasonable care. When people do not act with reasonable care while driving and this causes an accident, that is negligence.

Other Common Causes of Car Accidents

Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence is a serious crime because it can have catastrophic consequences for the driver and those around them. Driving while intoxicated can lead to accidents because intoxicated people have slowed reflexes, impaired judgement, worsened coordination, and diminished self-control. 

Driver Inattention

Driving is so normalized in our society that we may forget that when someone drives a car they are operating a piece of heavy machinery. The driver of a car must give the conditions of the road and the actions of the cars around them their full attention. When they are distracted, accidents can happen very quickly and unexpectedly.


In some places, speeding is commonplace, and when all the cars on the road are speeding it can seem tempting to do the same. However, speeding can lead to car accidents. A speeding car is less able to come to a stop, or swerve out of the way of an obstacle.

Failing To Obey Traffic Signals and Signs 

Stop signs, yield signs, traffic lights, and other signals are important to pay attention to and obey. When they are ignored, this can lead to collisions.

Asleep At The Wheel

Driving demands alertness at all times. Driving while fatigued can lead to falling asleep at the wheel, which could have disastrous consequences for the sleeping driver and those around him, as he will lose control of his car.

Weather or Environment Issues

Snow, rain, or darkness can all decrease visibility and worsen road conditions, making accidents more likely.

Steps To Take After a Car Accident

1. Make Sure Everyone Is Safe

The most important thing to do in a car accident is to ensure the safety of all parties. Make sure all vehicles and individuals involved in the accident are safely out of the way of passing cars and that the cars are turned off. If anyone is injured, call an ambulance; follow the instructions of the dispatcher while waiting for it to arrive. 

2. Document The Situation

You should document the circumstances of your accident as thoroughly as possible. This information will be important later to any insurance or personal injury claim you may want to bring. Take pictures of the scene and any damages. Call the police to the scene of the action, and file a police report explaining your experience. Be sure to get a copy of the police report as well.

 Do not sign anything that isn’t given to you by police, and do not admit fault or cast blame for the accident. While you may be distressed or upset, do not be argumentative with the other party to prevent saying anything you later regret. Make sure you exchange insurance information with the other driver.

3. Notify Your Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company that you have been in an automobile accident. You should do this no matter who was at fault for the accident—whether it was you or the other driver. However, do not admit fault for the accident to your insurance provider when you speak to them.

4. Talk To A Lawyer

You may not retain a lawyer in every car accident case. However, in some circumstances, it would be beneficial to talk to a lawyer and discuss your legal options after a car accident, especially in a case where you may have been the victim of the accident.

Stages of a Car Accident Claim

1. Start Claims Process

The first step in your claims process is to file a claim with the defendant driver’s car insurance. You may do this yourself, or your attorney can do it for you.

2. Settlement Negotiation

You will probably have to interact with a claims adjuster to determine compensation. Remember that the insurance company does not want to give you money; they are a business and want to make a profit. Negotiations could involve the insurance professional trying to deny your claim by finding you at fault for the accident, or by claiming you don’t have enough documentation of the situation.

It is situations like these in which an attorney would be helpful. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to negotiate with insurance claims adjusters.

3. Filing A Lawsuit

Sometimes negotiations don’t come to a favorable settlement. If that’s the case, you can file a lawsuit against the driver. Parties can still settle at this point, but your lawyer will file a complaint to begin the lawsuit and start the discovery process, which involves gathering evidence and testimony.

4. Trial

Not all cases go to trial, but if a settlement does not occur, your claim could proceed to either a bench trial or a jury trial. A bench trial involves attorneys going before a judge, whereas in a jury trial, 12 individuals hear the evidence and decide the key questions of the case. Which sort of trial you will have depends on what your lawyer thinks will best help your chances of recovering damages—the attitudes of courts and juries vary across jurisdictions, and you will want to be in front of the most sympathetic figure possible.

Do I Need an Attorney After a Car Accident?

In many cases, you won’t need a lawyer after a car accident. When damages are relatively minor, car accidents can usually be resolved between insurance companies. However, when damages are significant or when you or someone else is injured in the car accident, it may be beneficial to retain a lawyer. You should also retain a lawyer when the accident was your fault to some degree, or if the opposing party retains a lawyer.

Need Help? Contact Zinda Law Group Today

If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, contact Zinda Law Group today to learn your legal options. The attorneys at Zinda Law Group have extensive experience recovering compensation for victims of car accidents, and can handle the details of your case so you can focus on recovering from your accident. In addition, Zinda Law Group’s No-Win, No-Fee Guarantee means that you will only pay if you receive a favorable verdict—otherwise, you pay nothing.

Call (888) 241-6071 for a free consultation with a Zinda Law Group car accident lawyer.

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