Auto Accidents: Steps You Should Take After a Collision
As of 2010, there were 1.015 billion motor vehicles on the road, making it 10 times likelier for someone to end up in a car crash than in previous years. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2016 alone, there was an average of 102 auto accident-related deaths per day. That’s about 37,461 deaths for the entire year.
To make matters worse, the number of car crash fatalities was higher than the total amount of motor vehicle crashes in 2016. Not only are you at more risk of an auto accident in the year 2019, but your fellow passengers are as well.
Auto accidents can be traumatic, especially because they can happen at any time, without warning. People can be seriously injured and find themselves saddled with extensive medical bills, vehicle repair o replacement costs, and other expenses. That’s why it’s important to learn the precautions you can take before an auto accident and know what steps you should take if you’re hurt in a crash.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
There are multiple, necessary steps to take after a car accident:
Check for Injuries and Get Medical Help if Necessary – Though this step is obviously a given, it’s still worth mentioning. After a collision, pull over immediately and render assistance to anyone who may be hurt. Be cautious, and don’t hesitate to contact emergency assistance before trying to move someone who seems badly hurt. If you need to head to the emergency room, do not worry about skipping the following steps; your health is most important.
Exchange Contact Information – If you’re involved in a car crash, it’s in your best interest to stay level-headed and simply exchange the necessary information, without becoming apologetic or argumentative. Drivers should ask each other for their full name and contact information, driver’s license and phone number, insurance company and policy number, and any other information you think your insurance might want. You might also want to record the exact location of the accident and the make, model, and color of the other driver’s vehicle. The more information you can collect about the accident (eye-witness accounts, police statements, pictures) the better off you will be. Be careful during this process that you do not apologize for the accident or make any kind of statement about your injuries, including saying you are “fine.”
Document the Accident – Acquiring the above information is only the first step in documenting the accident. Once the police arrive at the scene of the crash, you will want to write down their name and badge numbers so that you can identify them later if necessary. Afterward, you will also want to ask for a copy of the accident report for insurance purposes. Then, take pictures of anything and everything at the accident scene, including any injuries, vehicle damage, skid marks, road conditions, weather, and more. This step is essential, especially if you decide to pursue a lawsuit or file a claim later on.
Notify Your Insurance Provider – You may call your insurance agent while you are at the accident, or you may wait until you have received medical attention and contacted a lawyer. Most insurance policies require that you report an accident within a certain timeframe, so be sure not to skip this step.
If you were so badly hurt in your accident that you were immediately transported to the emergency room, don’t panic. If possible, ask a friend or family member to travel to the accident site to take these measures for you. You can also contact a lawyer and have them take these steps on your behalf.
How Do I File a Personal Injury Auto Accident Claim?
There is no reason that you should have to pay for all your medical expenses or vehicle damage if you are not responsible for the crash. Plenty of people pursue personal injury claims so that they do not end up in unnecessary debt and so that they can recover any damages they incurred because of another driver’s carelessness.
The first step for filing a personal injury claim is to prove the negligence of another driver. There are four components of negligence. You must first demonstrate that the driver had a duty to care for your safety on the road. This step is easy, as all drivers have an inherent responsibility to keep all other drivers safe on the road. Then, you must provide sufficient evidence that the driver failed to uphold this duty. Careless or reckless behaviors such as texting while driving, drinking, and disobeying traffic laws can all demonstrate a violation of the duty of care. Next, you must prove that the driver’s violation directly caused your injuries. You can usually prove this step with medical records and evidence from the accident scene. Finally, you must show that your injuries resulted in significant damages. Your bills from the hospital, vehicle repair, and more can demonstrate this aspect.
A lawyer will be able to help you gather all the necessary evidence to prove all four components of negligence. From there, they can help you file a successful claim with the other driver’s insurance.
What Damages Might I Receive?
You can receive compensation, or damages, for any losses you incurred as a result of your accident. These may include:
- Medical expenses, past and future
- Lost wages from missing work
- Property damage to your vehicle and other belongings
- Rehabilitative costs
- Disfigurement and disability
- Pain and suffering
- In cases of wrongful death, funeral expenses and loss of consortium
An experienced attorney can help guide you through the appropriate steps to make sure that you are not stuck paying out of pocket for anything after an auto accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
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