As per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there are more than 17,000 traffic accidents every day in the United States. Even the safest of drivers might be rear-ended while sitting at a stop light. What that means is that anybody who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle needs to be aware of their legal rights and duties if they’re in an accident, as well as what to do in order to protect yourself after an accident.
Stop at the Scene of the Accident
While keeping the safety of you and others on the roadway in mind, stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible. Try not to obstruct the movement of traffic.
Take a Moment to Remain Still & Check for Injuries
When you get into a car accident, you will likely be in shock. Try to remain calm, still, and determine if you have any injuries. You may not initially feel injured at first.
Even if the accident was the fault of another driver, most states require you to provide reasonable assistance to anybody else who might have been injured as a result of the crash. Don’t try to provide medical aid unless you’re trained accordingly.
Call 911 if You Can
Never get talked out of calling 911 and asking the police to come and investigate the crash. Without a police report, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any type of a credible personal injury case. Since you were injured in the crash, you’ll want to tell the 911 operator that you want paramedics to come to the scene too. The investigating police officer will assess the scene, obtain contact and insurance information, interview the drivers and any witnesses, note the damage to the vehicles and complete a written accident report that you can obtain for a nominal fee in a few days. Both your attorney and the opposing insurance company will rely heavily on the contents of that report.
Get to an Emergency Room Right Away
After the paramedics have examined and treated you, get to an emergency room right away. The best way of doing that is to have the paramedics transport you there. That’s where you’ll be further examined and assessed. The paramedics will have made a record of your condition and treatment, and the emergency room personnel will do likewise. Those records are the first in a long series of medical records and reports that will document the nature and extent of your injuries and the treatment that you received for them.
Inform Your Auto Insurance Company
Be sure that you notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. You have a contractual duty to cooperate with your insurer, so provide it with anything that it needs.
Follow Instructions & Doctor Recommendations
Whether you were admitted to the hospital or discharged from emergency care to go home, follow all discharge instructions. If it’s recommended that you see your own family doctor, an orthopedist or a neurologist, arrange for an appointment and attend that appointment. Don’t miss doctor or treatment appointments. Missed appointments will show in your medical records, and the insurance company on the other side of your case will argue that you weren’t injured to the extent that you claim.
Beware of the Opposing Insurance Company
It’s not at all unusual for a representative of an opposing insurance company to contact an injured claimant “just to see how your recovery is coming along.” He or she might sound nice enough and concerned, but that representative wants something from you, and that’s a recorded statement. Never give a written or recorded statement of any kind to an opposing insurance company without an attorney being present on your behalf. The purpose of that statement is to try to get you to make contradictory and inconsistent remarks. Your own words can then be used against you to attack your credibility in the future. Always remember that prior inconsistent statements are admissible into evidence. Politely refuse to give any type of a statement. Instead, contact a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer.
Don’t think that you don’t need a quality personal injury lawyer on an injury claim. If you represent yourself, the opposing insurer has you right where it wants you. It’s highly likely that you’ll make mistakes that will forever prejudice your claim. Experienced personal injury lawyers don’t allow that to happen. It’s highly likely that your net proceeds derived from any settlement or verdict will be remarkably higher when you retain a dedicated and respected personal injury lawyer.