Being involved in a car accident is a scary and disconcerting experience. Directly afterward, you may be tempted to let your emotions dictate your next moves. While this is normal, it is important that you remain calm, use your head and avoid making decisions that may hurt you — and, possibly, your chance to recover compensation — in the long run. Because you will not have an opportunity to consult with an Albuquerque car accident attorney until hours, days or weeks following the incident, it is important that you educate yourself on the proper steps to take before an accident occurs.
Immediately Following the Accident
In the immediate aftermath of an auto accident, you should stop (as per the law), assess for injuries and call 911. The dispatcher will ask you questions regarding location, nearby hazards and injuries. If the accident did result in injuries, drivers or non-injured parties are required to render “reasonable assistance.” Drivers must also provide their names, addresses and registration numbers to those involved in the accident.
Regardless of whether you yourself sustained injuries, you should not decline medical attention. Medical attention can help assess the extent of obvious injuries and detect non-obvious ones, such as whiplash, head trauma or damage to your spine. If you forego medical attention and later develop symptoms of underlying injuries, you may have a difficult time recovering compensation.
Interacting With Law Enforcement
Though the police officers who arrive at the scene are there to help you and the other parties, you need to be careful about what you say and do in their presence. The officers will secure the scene and conduct an investigation. Officers may also perform field sobriety tests, question those involved, talk to witnesses and issue traffic citations.
Though you must provide officers with your information – and though you can and should give your side of the story – you should be careful about answering questions that may incriminate you. Some such questions include “Where were you coming from?” “How fast were you going?” “Did you have anything to drink before getting behind the wheel?” If the officer begins to ask questions that could result in criminal charges, invoke your right to remain silent.
Dealing With a Traffic Citation
After assessing the scene and hearing an account of events from the involved parties and witnesses, the officers may issue a citation. If you are the one to receive the citation, do not argue with the officer. You will have a chance to fight the citation in court, should you choose to request a hearing.
Fighting the Citation and Charges
If the accident results in a traffic citation and/or criminal charges, contact an Albuquerque defense lawyer right away. At Simon A. Kubiak, Attorney At Law, PC, we have extensive experience fighting traffic and DUI/DWI citations in New Mexico. If you face administrative or criminal penalties on top of the financial and physical damages from the accident, contact our team for guidance and aggressive legal representation.