I Was Just in a Car Accident…What Do I Do?
Car accidents can happen at any time. No matter how careful you are behind the wheel, crossing paths with a careless or reckless motorist could lead to a serious vehicle collision, or you can cause a serious accident in a momentary lapse of judgement. These accidents can cause severe injuries and leave you with extensive financial losses.
Are you unsure what to do after a car accident? The following guide provides you with the steps you can take after the collision. In addition to ensuring that your medical needs are met, you can take steps to protect your legal rights as well.
Contact Law Enforcement
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important that you contact the police right away. Some state laws require that you notify police of an accident when the collision results in injuries, deaths, or significant property damage. Remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive so you have the opportunity to provide your side to the police and ensure the information in their report is accurate.
Do not leave the scene of the accident, especially if you were the person who struck the other vehicle, this behavior is illegal in every state. Of course, you do not have to remain at the scene if you are in need of emergency medical care.
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Exchange Information With the Other Driver
While you are at the scene of the accident, you must exchange information with the other driver. This includes your name, driver’s license number, and insurance information. Sharing these details is required, but you are under no obligation to discuss the specifics of your accident. Doing so could put your case in jeopardy, especially if you admit fault in some way.
It is important to avoid discussing your case with the other driver, but always listen to what they have to say. If they admit to causing the accident or provide insight into how they are responsible, that information could be invaluable to your personal injury case.
Document the Scene of the Accident
If your injuries do not require immediate medical attention, it is important that you obtain as much information from the scene of the accident as possible. The accident scene will not be there forever, and time is limited in recovering evidence.
This effort should start with taking photos of the accident scene. These photos could show how the vehicles came to rest while also detailing the damage done to each car. You can also take photos of your injuries if they are immediately noticeable.
Talking to witnesses is also important. The witnesses at the scene of the accident will not stay there for long. Once a witness leaves, tracking them down could be nearly impossible. That is why it is in your best interest to secure the contact information from each witness when you can.
See a Doctor About Your Injuries
You should seek out immediate medical care following an accident. If our injuries are serious, this will involve a trip to the emergency room. Even if you do not belief your injuries warrant a visit to the emergency room, it is important that you make an appointment with your primary care provider as soon as possible.
Seeking treatment for your injuries right away could protect you in different ways. Your injuries have the potential to worsen if you fail to seek treatment in a timely manner. A visit to the doctor could be the first step towards a fast and complete recovery.
Seeking immediate medical care could also protect your future civil lawsuit. When you visit a doctor immediately after an accident, you are creating medical records that can back up your case. These records will also provide a judge or jury with direct evidence of the extent of your damages.
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Keep Up with your Care Plan
Going to the doctor once is rarely enough following a serious injury. When you seek out a physician after an accident, they are likely to give you a comprehensive treatment plan. This plan could include follow-up visits, physical therapy, or chiropractic care. Following this plan to the letter is important for your health as well as your personal injury case. If you don’t follow the treatment plan from your physician, you might not reach your full recovery potential.
What’s more, failing to do so could result in the at-fault party alleging that you failed to mitigate your damages. Even if you think you were the cause of the accident, you need to document your injuries and go to appointments, as your lawyer may be able to use this information to push back against the other’s driver’s arguments of your negligence.
When you pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you have an obligation to mitigate your damages. This means you must take steps to prevent your injuries from worsening and avoid unnecessary medical expenses. If you ignore your treatment plan and it results in your damages increasing, the at-fault party might not be responsible for them.
Avoid Discussing Your Accident
You should limit your discussion of your accident whenever possible, regardless whose fault the accident was. This is especially true when it comes to discussing the case with the other driver. You have an obligation to provide them with your driver’s license and insurance information, but you do not have to speak to them about the facts of your accident. Anything you tell them could be used against you at trial.
The same goes for the insurance carrier for the other driver. Their insurance company will likely reach out to you right away to make a recorded statement. However, you do not have to give them one. Even if they imply a recorded statement is mandatory, it is important to remember you have the right to refuse. These recorded statements could be used against you at trial, and giving one is never in your best interest.
There are some conversations you cannot avoid, but you can take care to not put your case at risk. For example, you must speak with the police when they arrive at the scene of the accident. However, you can take care not to admit any fault or say anything that might jeopardize your case.
Contact Your Insurance Company
While you should never speak to the other driver’s insurance company under any circumstances, you are likely required by the terms of your policy to notify your own car insurance carrier. Insurance policies typically include this language to ensure that carriers have the chance to investigate an accident shortly after it occurs.
Your obligation is dictated by the terms of your insurance policy. However, most policies require you to notify your insurer even if you do not intend to file a claim. The failure to do so could have consequences, as your carrier could deny your claim based on the failure to comply with their investigation. In rare cases, they could even use this as a reason to cancel your policy entirely.
Speak to an Attorney About Your Accident
When it comes to the steps you should take following a vehicle crash, few are more important than speaking to an attorney. Your attorney will play a major role in every aspect of your personal injury case. This starts with their investigation of the accident, as they could identify the responsible parties and determine how negligence played a part in causing the crash.
Your attorney can work to resolve your personal injury case. by negotiating a settlement with the insurance company or taking your case to trial. Of all the ways your attorney could help, providing you with guidance and peace of mind could be the most important. While you focus on recovering from your injuries, your attorney could focus on recovering the damages you deserve.
How Many People Die in Car Accidents Each Year?
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of unintentional death across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Each year, thousands of Americans pass away following an accident. While fatal accidents happen in every state, the rate of these accidents can differ dramatically across state lines. This is true for a number of factors including population density, state traffic laws, weather, and the capability of emergency responders, among other factors.
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 33,244 fatal car accidents across the country in 2019. These accidents involved a total of 36,096 deaths.
State-Specific Statistics for North Carolina and South Carolina
In North Carolina, there were 1,284 fatal crashes with a total of 1,373 deaths. The same year, South Carolina saw 992 fatal accidents with 1,001 deaths. South Carolina saw significantly more deaths per person compared to North Carolina.
You Could Recover Compensation After Your Car Accident
Taking careful steps in the aftermath of a crash could limit the extent of your injuries and improve your chances of securing fair compensation or fighting the other party’s attempt to hold you liable for an accident. Limiting your discussion of the case could ensure that you do not put your recovery at risk.
Anastopoulo Law Firm is ready to help you pursue compensation for your injuries. In addition to advising you on what to do after a car accident, our team could help you aggressively pursue a fair outcome in your case. Call (800) 313-2546 for a free consultation with a car accident lawyer.