The absolute best way to avoid a car accident is to follow all state traffic laws, which may differ from state to state. Most car accidents are caused by negligent driving on the part of one or more drivers.
Some examples of this can include:
- Poor visibility;
- Inattention while driving;
- Especially bad weather conditions that affect driving ability;
- Drunk driving;
- Defects within the vehicle’s mechanical system; or
- Issues with road signs, or traffic light failure.
In order to remain prepared should a car accident occur, you may wish to keep an emergency kit in your vehicle at all times. This kit should include:
- A flashlight;
- Emergency flares;
- Basic medical supplies; and
- A blanket.
A standard auto accident kit can be found at most automotive stores. Other necessities include:
- Your driver’s license;
- Vehicle registration;
- Proof of insurance; and
- A way to secure any items in your vehicle that could go flying, causing an injury in the event of an accident.
Motor vehicle accidents can result in some very specific injuries, which may include:
- Head, neck, and spine injuries;
- Cuts, bruises, and abrasions;
- Broken bones; or
- Other serious injuries.
If an accident results in particularly serious injuries, the testimony and opinion of an expert medical professional may be necessary in any resulting legal action. This professional can assist in determining whether the injuries sustained were actually caused by the accident, and whether the victim had any pre-existing injuries prior to the accident.
What Steps Should I Take After an Accident?
In order to protect yourself, there are some specific things you should do following a car accident. First and foremost, you will need to remain at the scene of the accident, whether the accident was caused by you or the other driver(s). Failure to do so could result in hit and run charges. Hit and run is a crime in which a driver involved in an accident fails to stop and provide the following:
- Their name and driver’s license number;
- The name of their insurance provider as well as their policy number;
- Their license plate number; and
- Any other information required by their state.
This information must be provided to anyone involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses and law enforcement officers.
Immediately call for an ambulance if anyone appears to be in need of medical attention. If at all possible, move your car to a safe place off of the road, putting the vehicle in park and turning off the engine while leaving on the hazard lights. If you have warning triangles and flares, you should use those as well.
It is important that you notify the police before contacting your insurance provider. When the police arrive, you should accurately describe the accident, even if the accident is minor, as your insurance provider will likely request a copy of the police report. Once you’ve done that, you can contact your insurance provider in order to file your claim.
Again, even if the accident is minor, you should take this step because the other driver(s) involved may try to accuse you of fault by reporting it to their own insurance as such. Notifying your insurance and filing a claim can help you later on when determining who was actually at fault.
You may wish to collect additional information, so as to be as prepared as possible for any resulting disputes or legal claims. Some examples of this could include:
- Vehicle details, such as make, model, and color;
- Eyewitness names and contact information, if there were any witnesses;
- The location of the accident;
- The names and badge numbers of the responding police officers; or
- Pictures of the scene as well as the vehicles involved.
What Are the Damages for Car Accident Claims? Are There Any Defenses?
Following a car accident, you may wish to immediately apologize or place blame. However, you should be polite as possible while refraining from making any drastic or accusatory remarks. Do not admit fault, and remember that in many places, a simple “I’m sorry” may be considered to be an admission of fault. Also, stating that you “feel fine” without having a thorough assessment of your physical state post accident could later impact your ability to recover monetary damages for physical injuries.
Car accidents may sometimes result in a civil lawsuit for damages. The liable party may be held responsible for reimbursing the victim for their losses. Some examples of these damages could include:
- Costs associated with any injuries, such as hospital or therapy costs;
- Costs associated with damage to the vehicle or other property;
- Lost wages or earning capacity;
- Emotional distress or pain and suffering, when proven; or
- Criminal penalties in cases involving drunk driving and other instances of criminal negligence.
A driver may be excused from liability, if a legal defense applies to their situation. An attorney is best suited to determine which, if any, defenses are available to each specific case. However, some common defenses include:
- Lack of proof or fault;
- Emergency conditions;
- Contributory or comparative negligence; and
- Assumption of risk.
Do I Need an Attorney If I’ve Been Involved in a Car Accident?
Some car accidents can be handled effectively by the parties involved and their respective insurance companies. However, consulting with an experienced attorney may prove invaluable when discussing the incident with the other driver’s insurance company.
A skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney can prevent you from agreeing to any exploitative settlements, as well as help protect your legal rights. In addition to representing you in negotiating with the other party’s insurance provider, an experienced attorney may also represent you in court.