The National Safety Council estimates that around 100 people die daily and over 1,000 people suffer permanent injuries every day from car crashes. These accidents are an unfortunate reality of modern society. They may occur because of natural causes, such as a snowstorm, or circumstantial causes, such as limited visibility. Some occur because of driver negligence, unsafe driving and vehicular failure. Below explains what you should do to help hold the at-fault driver accountable and protect your legal rights.
The first step is to evaluate and control the accident scene. If you are directly involved in a vehicle accident, never leave until the police arrive. Any driver involved in an accident where a person is rendered unconscious or killed is legally required to remain at the scene until the police arrive. A ‘hit and run’ could result in driving privileges being revoked or suspended. Move cars to the side of the road to avoid blocking traffic or endangering people. If the vehicles cannot be moved without causing further damage, just leave them with the hazard lights flashing. Ensure that everyone involved is not injured before focusing on damages and insurance. Provide reasonable aid to those who are injured, but never attempt to move anyone with serious injuries. Call 911 if there is any significant injuries or property damage.
Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information and drivers’ license numbers with the other driver(s). Obtain the names, email, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses and passengers. All of this information may be legally required for the police report, the DMV accident report and any incidents involving death or property damage. An easy solution is to simply take cellphone pictures and videos of the vehicles, accident scene, personal injuries and even drivers licenses. Consider using your phone to record driver and witness statements. Detailed documentation will benefit insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. When discussing the incident, avoid blaming, apologizing or admitting fault. Instead, be honest, factual and impartial. Be sure to give your email to the responding officer so you can get a PDF copy of the police report.
Even if you don’t have any visible injuries, seek medical attention. Many injuries, such as strains and whiplash, may take days or weeks to surface. The body’s biochemical response to trauma will flood your body with chemicals like adrenaline that will numb your regular physical sensations. Most serious car accident injuries appear in the form of soft tissue damage to the muscles, tendons and ligaments. This is usually sprains and strains that take weeks to exhibit pain and swelling. Since soft tissue injuries cannot be seen through X-rays, pay close attention to your body’s sensations during follow up visits with your doctor. Drink fluids to help reduce inflammation and avoid engaging in strenuous activities because someone could question a post-accident injury.
If you were involved in a car accident, consider consulting a personal injury lawyer to understand how to protect your legal rights, make the right decisions and properly communicate with others. People who experience a car accident are often in shock and may say or do things that aren’t in their best legal interest. Insurance company reps now tend to quickly approach the opposing driver to offer an appealing settlement. Report any of these offers to your attorney. Car insurance companies are fighting more claims, so it’s important to have an attorney hold them accountable. Chronic medical issues will likely require a medical referral to an occupational therapist who can professionally validate sustained injuries with the specific car accident.
Gathering insurance and accident information through photos, videos and documentation are the best ways to hold at-fault drivers accountable. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact us that we may protect your rights and guide you through the complex legal system.