Automobile accidents and car crashes are on the rise worldwide, with car accidents responsible for claiming 1.3 million lives every year. With the highest per-capita car ownership globally, the United States finds itself at the helm of the car accidents list. There were 40,000+ deaths recorded in the country due to car accidents for three consecutive years. In 2018, car crashes in the country left 4.5 million people seriously injured or disabled.
The statistics clearly indicate that the probability of being involved in car accidents has significantly increased. Thus, an average American adult is highly likely to find himself in a car crash once during his lifetime. Furthermore, these car accidents also impact the financial well-being of an individual and are estimated to cost an average of USD$ 820 per person annually.
Over the years, the process of claiming compensation for injuries has become a complex affair with numerous parties involved in the procedure. While some parties will work in your favor, others, such as driver insurance adjusters, will openly work against you. However, it is important to note that you are not powerless and can take certain steps to ensure you are rightly compensated and defended. The following steps outline what measures need to be taken just after a car accident to safeguard your interests:
After a car accident, the first thing to do is to drive your vehicle to a safe spot off the road, especially if you are in the middle of a highway or a busy street. Do not drive any further away than required, or you can be accused of a hit-and-run. If the car isn’t drivable, or you are not in the condition to do so, then turn on the emergency blinkers. If required, set up light-reflective triangles, cones, or flares a few meters behind your car to indicate to other drivers that an accident has occurred. Do not opt for this unless you are sure that it is required. Be extremely cautious about walking on or beside the road at the site of the car accident.
Check on fellow passengers and any other people who might have been impacted by the car accident. Call the ambulance and the police immediately, even if someone has minor injuries. Ensure that you have not sustained any injuries, as an adrenaline rush can mask the effect. Wait for the paramedics to come in and handle the injured people unless emergency first aid is required. Do not move unconscious or severely injured people unless they are in danger of being hit by traffic. Only perform first aid if you are certified to do so or know what you are doing.
Never run away from the scene, or you may be charged under hit-and-run even if it wasn’t your fault. Hit-and-run is a serious crime and is treated as a felony if someone is seriously injured or killed.
If you are in a hurry and need to leave, exchange your name, phone number, insurance proof, and residence address with the parties involved in the car accident. If the car accident involves a parked vehicle, you should leave a note with all the above-mentioned details. Ensure that the note is easily discoverable and visible so that it reaches the intended person. In case of severe injuries, extensive property damage, or death, you should immediately call the police. However, if the car accident only involves minor damages and no injuries, you may be authorized to report it later, depending on the state jurisdiction you are in.
Avoid interacting or discussing the car accident with the other parties involved in the incident. Keep your conversations limited to the formality of exchanging contact and insurance information. Although it’s natural to apologize in such circumstances, avoid doing so, or it can be used against you in a court of law. If you utter the phrase “I am sorry,” it legally interprets that you accept that the car accident was a consequence of a fault on your part.
On the other hand, do not become aggressive or confront the other driver if you are extremely upset. Instead, stay calm and hold the other party accountable in the court of law. Ensure your side of the story and chain of events finds a place in the police report if they visit the scene.
One of the best things you can do to strengthen your case and claim is to gather evidence at the scene. However, do not try and stretch yourself to gather evidence if you are severely injured. In such cases, you can request a trusted partner to gather evidence for you.
The best way to capture evidence is to take pictures of the scene. Take pictures of your car and the other cars involved in the accident and ensure you capture their license plates. Make sure to capture the damage caused to the vehicles and injuries suffered during the car accident. You can also talk to witnesses at the car accident site and exchange contact information as it may be required during the trial. Note down the chain of events as it played down while the details are still fresh in your mind. If police visit the scene, ensure that you manage to get their name, badge ID.
If you are unable to drive your car after the accident, it will be towed. The important point to keep in mind is that towing and vehicle storage until the repair can be expensive. If towing is covered under your insurance plan, call the operator and let them take the responsibility. Irrespective of who called for the towing truck, you need to ensure that you have the driver’s contact information and business card.
Avoid overnight storage as it can dig a deep hole in your pocket. If there is a trusted mechanic nearby, get your car towed to him and instruct the mechanic not to touch the vehicle until the insurance company has reviewed and noted the damages caused by the car accident. If that’s not possible, try and avoid leaving your car in storage as towing bills are assigned based on the determination of fault.
The priority for you after a car accident should be visiting a doctor. It would be best if you underwent a thorough assessment to ascertain the extent of injuries that you may have sustained. There are two reasons why your visit to the doctor should be a priority:
If the police did not visit the accident scene, you should immediately file a report. Depending on the state and jurisdiction, you may have to inform the DMV or other concerned agencies. Moreover, you should immediately call your insurance company and tell them about the car accident.
If the police were at the scene, they would have filed a report about the car accident. This report is an integral part of the case and includes a verdict on the determination of fault, which is used by the police and insurance companies. Get the final draft of the report after the police have completed the filing process. After getting the report, thoroughly analyze it to point out any gaps, mistakes, or shortcomings in the report. If any mistakes or gaps exist, ensure you get them corrected via a petition.
Insurance companies might try and lure you into accepting a settlement offer. Typically, these offers are just a quick way of settling car accident cases and do not even provide compensation to cover the basic medical bills. While it may seem like a lucrative opportunity out of a long legal procedure, we advise you to avoid falling for it.
Post leaving the car accident scene; you may be tempted to narrating the incident via digital and social media platforms. However, what you say in public and on social media platforms can be used as proof to turn the car accident lawsuit against you. Besides taking these precautions, do not agree to interact with the other driver’s insurance agent nor consent to be recorded. Ensure all your interactions with the other driver’s insurance company happen in the presence of an attorney.
It is always better to have the supervision of a legal personal injury expert when dealing with car accident cases. However, to simplify the process, you should hire a car accident attorney if any of the following conditions come true:
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