There is an average of 6 million car accidents every single year in the United States. Statistics show that around 90 people lose their lives every day on U.S. roads, while 3 million people sustain injuries each year. Of this number, around 2 million people experience permanent injuries which have a direct impact on their quality of life.
If you have been involved in a car accident that was not entirely your fault, you may be entitled to justice and compensation. The aftermath of a car accident can be an incredibly difficult and stressful time, with people unsure what steps they should take.
In this blog post, we will highlight what you should do after a car accident. These include both the immediate steps (such as contacting the emergency services) and longer-term steps (such as speaking to an auto accident lawyer). Let’s get started with this guide.
Get to Safety
The very first thing you should attempt to do following a car accident is get to safety. If you are a motorist, this will most likely involve moving either yourself or your vehicle off the road and away from traffic. Moving to the side of the road allows you to get away from any additional dangers at the crash site.
If you are traveling in a vehicle with other people, you should also ensure (as much as you are able) to get them to safety. You should also attempt to ensure that any other people involved in the accident, such as those in other vehicles, are safe.
Call the Emergency Services
As soon as you are in a position to call the emergency services, you should do so. Immediate medical care may be required following the accident, including potentially for yourself and/or for other people involved in the accident.
Even if you feel okay, it is beneficial to call the emergency services. In the aftermath of a traumatic event, which is what a car accident is, you may experience shock. Shock can prevent a person from noticing or realizing the extent of any injuries they have sustained.
During this time, we also advise (if you are in a position to) that you check on the well-being and condition of any other people involved in the accident. It is possible that they will also require immediate medical attention.
Exchange Contact and Insurance Information
If you are able to, identify the other driver or drivers involved in the car accident. You should take the time to exchange basic information with them, including names, contact information, driver’s license numbers, and car insurance details. In order to avoid any transcription errors, it’s recommended that you take photographs of both their license and insurance card.
Each state in the U.S. has its own legal requirements around exchanging information after a car accident, so it is important that these are understood and followed. While this step may not seem pressing at the time, given that the aftermath of an accident can be so incredibly stressful, it is important and will play a role in ensuring that you secure the justice and compensation you deserve later on.
Call the Police
If you have contacted the emergency services (911) following the accident, it is likely that local police have also been notified of the accident and will arrive at the scene themselves. In any case, it is recommended that you call the police yourself to guarantee their arrival at the scene (which is crucial when pursuing a car accident claim against the at-fault party).
The reason that it is so important that the police are present at the scene of the accident is that they will file a police report. The report will help you later on when you file your claim and present evidence against the at-fault party.
Be sure to get the responding officer’s name and badge number as well as the police report, when it is available, from the police station. Remember to never admit blame while at the scene of the accident.
Collect Evidence if Possible
Again, this step is dependent on your condition following the accident. For example, you may have sustained serious or debilitating injuries that prevent you from moving or performing any actions.
However, should you be in a position to do so, it is highly advisable that you collect evidence from the scene of the accident. The more evidence you are able to collect in the critical period following the accident, the better chance you will have of securing a satisfactory outcome with your case.
We recommend that you take both photographs and videos of the scene of the accident, including damage to the vehicles, any injuries you or your passengers have sustained, nearby road traffic signs, skid marks, and the location of the involved vehicles. Your photographs and videos should also highlight the weather conditions in the immediate aftermath of the accident.
Another beneficial step at this point is to speak to any witnesses who saw the accident occur. Collect statements from these people and get their names and contact information.
Report the Car Accident
Every state in the U.S. has its own specific laws about whether or not an accident must be reported. It’s important to be aware of the laws in the state in which the accident occurred and to follow these exactly.
To give you a better understanding of this step, let’s take California as an example. In the Golden State, it is necessary to report an accident if it results in death, injury, or property damage of more than $1,000. In cases where a person pursues a car accident claim seeking compensation as a result of injury, death, or property damage, it is therefore essential to report the accident.
It is also important to be aware of the deadline for reporting an accident. In California, for example, the deadline is 10 days. Again, every state sets its own deadline limits so it’s important to promptly report the accident.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Even if you are involved in a minor car accident, it is still recommended that you inform your insurance company as soon as possible. As with the above point, every state in the U.S. has its own laws and a different statute of limitations when it comes to filing an insurance claim.
The reality is that the longer you wait to file a claim with an insurance company, the more difficult it may be to reach a satisfactory conclusion. For example, it may become difficult to establish strong evidence for your case if too much time has passed. We recommend that you speak to an experienced car accident attorney so that you follow the correct protocol for informing your insurance company.
Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer
Speaking to a professional car accident lawyer is a crucial step in the aftermath of a car accident if you wish to pursue a claim against the at-fault party. Having a reputable car accident lawyer in your corner will help to maximize your odds of achieving a successful outcome after an accident that was not entirely your fault.
The reality is that a legal claim following a car accident can be incredibly complex as well as lengthy. Your chosen lawyer will help you with every facet of the case. This includes:
- Obtaining evidence of damage and injury
- Organizing medical records and bills
- Negotiating with defendants and/or lawyers
- Dealing with your insurance company
- Negotiating a satisfactory settlement
We recommend that you speak to a lawyer, such as alphaaccidentlawyers.com, about your case as soon as possible.
Make Recovery a Priority
One of the other benefits of partnering with a car accident lawyer is that you will be able to focus your energy on recovery, rather than the nitty-gritty of the claim.
In the aftermath of a car accident in which you sustained injuries, recovery should be your priority. That means seeking medical attention as required and closely following all of the advice you receive from your doctors. You may have to take time off from work and avoid certain activities while you recover.
What Are Common Car Accident Injuries?
Above, we spoke about the importance of making recovery a priority. But what are some of the most common injuries that people experience as a result of being involved in a car accident? Car accident injuries can range from minor to life-changing.
Some of the most common injuries treated in the ER as a result of car accidents include minor scrapes, sprains, and bruises. More serious injuries include broken bones, whiplash, burns, concussions, broken bones, and facial injuries. Some of the most serious injuries that can occur include neck injuries, loss of limbs, brain injuries, paralysis, and internal bleeding.
Whiplash is a very common car accident injury that occurs when a person’s head moves backward and forward suddenly and with great force. It commonly occurs during a rear-end car accident. Though whiplash is generally considered to be a mild form of injury, it can also result in long-term discomfort and pain.
As noted in the introduction, around 90 people die on U.S. roads every single day. In such cases, the deceased person’s family may bring a wrongful death claim. If you are interested in learning more about filing a wrongful death claim, we recommend that you seek legal help from an experienced lawyer.
How to Win a Car Accident Case?
The above-listed steps will help you to build a strong case when filing a car accident claim against the at-fault party. When filing a car accident claim, it is important to understand the difference between at-fault and no-fault accidents, which vary from state to state.
Most states in the U.S. are known as at-fault fault states. This means that one party is usually considered to be “at fault” for the accident and it is they who must cover the cost of injuries and damages. However, some states in the U.S. are no-fault states, where medical bills are covered by personal injury coverage.
In order to strengthen your case, there are a number of mistakes that you should seek to avoid making (partnering with an experienced lawyer can help you here). These include being uncooperative or making accusations while at the scene of the accident. The best approach is to stay calm and be respectful.
If spoken to by the police, you should aim to answer their questions truthfully and avoid making any speculation or admitting blame. You should also avoid pointing blame at this point.
In the aftermath of the case, it’s important to compile all documentation related to the accident, including medical reports and bills. While your medical records may highlight the extent of physical injuries, they may not be able to shed any light on the mental pain and suffering you have experienced. Therefore, it is beneficial to start a journal in which you record the emotional and physical toll that the car accident has had on you.
Important Steps to Take After a Car Accident
The bottom line is that the aftermath of a car accident is typically a very difficult, stressful, and challenging time. You may have experienced serious injuries and have had to take time off work as a result. In order to get the justice and compensation that you deserve, we recommend that you hire a lawyer to help you with your claim.
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