Many auto accidents fall in the category of fender-benders that result in minor personal injuries at best with specific property damage to the affected vehicles. In accident scenarios like this, it is okay to discuss the issue with the other driver and report the accident to your insurance company, even if an officer is not dispatched to the scene. However, most accidents tend to be unique in some fashion and knowing what to do in the case of a serious injury or accident involving significant property damage, there are some other steps that will need to be taken during and following the crash. In addition, there are laws that also apply when an accident occurs regarding how parties to the crash must respond.
1. Get Out of Your Vehicle and Assess Damage
This is not always possible for those who suffer serious injury or are trapped in a crashed vehicle. If you are able to remove yourself from your vehicle, then you may be the only individual who is mobile at the time. It is very important for the least injured in an accident to check the other vehicles for injured or trapped passengers because time can be important in emergency situations. And remember, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident when people are injured or serious damage is done to involved automobiles. If someone’s life is in peril it is okay to help them, but be careful not to injure them worse when helping them get out of a damaged vehicle. In serious crashes where there are no life-threatening circumstances, it is often best to let the professionals with first responders handle this process.
2. Call the Authorities or Stop Someone with a Cell Phone
While most people in contemporary society do have a cell phone, this is not true for everyone. However, time can be crucial immediately following a wreck. Even when you do not have a phone, it is very important to contact someone who does and can call 911 promptly. For those who do have phones or cameras, taking pictures of the scene can be important as well, especially if vehicles will be moved to clear the roadway. Evidence can be lost if vehicles are moved for safety purposes, but pictures of the actual scene immediately following the wreck can help officers determine the exact cause of the mishap. In addition, flag traffic around the crash if needed until police officers arrive.
3. Comply with Officer Requests
Always be cooperative with police officers and emergency medical technicians after they arrive on the scene. Police will conduct an investigation among the involved parties and list specific information on the official accident report. Always remember to answer the officer’s questions directly and do not embellish your comments. Answer only what is asked regarding how the accident occurred. Overstatements could impact the final outcome of the accident, especially if you indicate personal fault in anyway. Remember, when the accident case is being negotiated, your personal fault in the accident causation will be used to discount any damages to which may be entitled. Never admit fault. Let the officers make that determination during accident reconstruction.
4. Seek Medical Attention
All seriously injured passengers will be transported to a treatment facility by emergency personnel, but many times individuals are injured and do not even realize it until much later. In fact, most injured parties in an accident do not really feel the effects of internal injuries until the next day or two. It is important to go directly to a treatment facility or emergency room immediately after an accident because internal injuries could occur that can worsen quickly with little realization until it is too late. Get evaluated as soon as possible because this will crucial to proper accident settlement.
5. Consult with an Attorney
After reporting the accident claim to your personal insurance company, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible because your claim could be more valuable than you realize. While it is acceptable to contact a respondent insurance company, it is never a good idea to accept any offer immediately or attempt handling the case until requesting evaluation by a legal professional. Auto accidents involving injuries can be very complicated and insurance companies will look for any technicality they can use to deny or limit a claim. This is especially true in cases where the negligent driver has significant insurance coverage above state minimums or you have additional personal protection insurance coverage on your auto policy. Sometimes the most difficult insurance agency can be your own provider.