Automobile accidents occur so frequently that those of us who haven’t been involved in a crash have a tendency to not take them seriously.
That all changes when you’re suddenly jolted into reality when metal strikes metal, as it does over 6 million times a year in the United States, according to national traffic statistics.
Your first reaction will be a jolt of adrenaline as the consequences of being hit and possibly injured hit home. Panic, fear or a loss of self-control can follow. What should you do? Here’s a helpful list from Injury Help Desk’s experienced network of auto accident lawyers.
- Stay calm. Gather your wits and determine if you have been injured and, if so, how badly. If you or another victim need urgent care call 911 immediately.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident. Even if you think there was no damage or minor damage you have a legal obligation to stop your vehicle.
- If anyone has suffered an injury do not try to move them. You are not an emergency medical responder and have not been trained to help. You might make an injury, a spinal injury, for instance, worse.
- Try to protect the scene and avoid making the situation worse. You can do this by turning your emergency flashers on or setting up flares.
- Contact the local police department. This is very important because police reports may be required to file a claim with your insurance company and the report can be an independent substantiation of your version of the facts of the crash.
- Do not admit responsibility to the other driver or the police. Insurance policies you hold have fine print instructing you not to assume liability. Tell police exactly what you know about what occurred as best you can and do not guess or speculate about anything that you are unsure of.
- If you are asked if you have suffered any injuries report any pain you are suffering and say you are unsure of any other injuries. In many accidents injuries – such as concussions or soft tissue injuries – do not surface for days or weeks.
- Get the name, address and phone number of anyone involved in accident or witness who may have stopped to help. Cell phones are an easy option to take pictures of damage to the vehicles and of the other person’s insurance policy and vehicle identification number.
- Call and report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible but avoid admitting fault or telling the responder that you were not injured because you many not find out all the facts of the accident or the extent of your injuries for some time afterward. Comments about things you are not sure of may be used against you.
- Seek medical help unless you are positive that you have not suffered an injury. Concussions that can have long-lasting negative effects and soft-tissue injuries that can cause serious pain and even require surgery may not show up for several days or weeks. Closely monitor your body.
- Contact an attorney, such as the specialized Injury Help Desk national network of attorneys for free consultations about what your legal rights are and what compensation you may be due. The earlier you contact us the more your legal rights to obtain damages are preserved.
- Save all paperwork and emails. Start with the police report. If you are injured and require medical care keep all of your medical appointments and preserve the records, results and costs of such visits. Car rental receipts and repair records are also important as are any records of loss of wages.