What to Do after a Car Accident

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 What are Some Car Accident Basics I Should Know?

The best way, of course, to avoid an automobile accident, is to carefully follow all state traffic laws. Traffic laws are often different across the states.

In many cases, car accidents are caused by negligent driving by one or more drivers. Examples of instances including driver negligence and other road hazards may include:

  • Driving when there is poor visibility;
  • Not paying attention while driving;
  • Driving in especially bad weather conditions which affect driving ability;
  • Drunk driving;
  • Defects within the vehicle’s mechanical system; or
  • Issues with road signs, or traffic light failure.

In order for an individual to be prepared in the event of an automobile accident, they may wish to keep an emergency kit in their vehicle at all times. An emergency kit should include items such as:

  • A flashlight;
  • Emergency flares or orange cones;
  • Water bottles;
  • Basic medical supplies, such as a first aid kit; and
  • A blanket.

An individual can find a standard automobile accident kit at most automotive stores. Other necessities and individual may need if an automobile accident occurs include:

  • Their driver’s license;
  • Their vehicle registration; and
  • Proof of insurance.

It is important for an individual to consider taking precautions in their vehicle to prepare in advance for an accident. This includes securing items that may fly around the vehicle and cause an injury in the event of an accident.

When a motor vehicle accident occurs, there are typically some very specific injuries. These types of injuries may include:

  • Whiplash;
  • Head, neck, and spine injuries;
  • Cuts, bruises, and abrasions;
  • Broken bones; or
  • Other serious injuries.

If an automobile accident results in serious injuries, the opinion and expert testimony of a medical professional may be required in the event that legal action becomes necessary. A medical professional can assist in determining whether the injuries that were sustained were actually caused by the accident or whether the accident victim had a pre-existing injury before the accident occurred.

What Steps Should I Take After an Accident?

In order for an individual to protect themselves, there are some specific steps they should take following a car accident. First, they will need to remain at the scene of the accident, whether the accident was caused by the individual or by another driver.

If an individual fails to remain at the scene of an accident, it may result in hit and run charges. A hit and run is a crime which occurs when a driver is involved in an automobile accident and fails to stop and provide the following information:

  • Their name;
  • Their driver’s license number;
  • The name of their insurance provider;
  • Their insurance policy number;
  • Their license plate number; and
  • Any other information that is required by their state.

This information is required to be provided to any individuals who are involved in the accident as well as law enforcement officers and any witnesses. There are also other steps which an individual should take.

It is essential to call for an ambulance immediately if any individuals appear to be injured or in need of medical attention. If permitted and possible, the drivers should move their cars to a safe place off of the road, put it in park, and turn the engine off and the hazard lights on. If an individual has warning flares, triangles, or cones, they should use those as well.

It is important for an individual to notify law enforcement prior to contacting their insurance provider. When law enforcement arrives, the individual should accurately describe the accident, even if it is minor, as their insurance provider will likely request a copy of the police report.
Once these steps are completed, the individual can contact their insurance provider in order to file their claim. It is important for the individual to provide their insurance provider with accurate information and the information they have regarding other drivers and witnesses involved.

It is important to repeat that, even if the accident is minor, an individual should take these steps because there is a chance that the other driver or drivers who are involved may attempt to accuse the individual of being at fault by reporting it that way to their own insurance company. If an individual notifies their insurance company and files a claim, it can assist them later on when trying to determine who was actually at fault.

An individual may also wish to collect additional information so they can be prepared for any disputes or legal claims which result from the accident. This information may 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 law enforcement officers;
  • Pictures of the accident scene; and
  • Pictures of the vehicles involved.

What Are the Damages for Car Accident Claims? Are There Any Defenses?

After a car accident, an individual may feel the need to immediately apologize or to place blame. However, it is very important to be as polite as possible while refraining from making any accusatory, drastic, or fault related remarks.

It is very important for the individual to avoid admitting fault. This is because, in many places, even if an individual only provides a simple I’m sorry, that statement may be considered to be an admission of fault.

In addition, if an individual states that they feel fine without having a thorough medical assessment of their physical state following the accident, it may impact their ability to recover monetary damages for their physical injuries at a later time. In some cases, an automobile accident may result in a civil lawsuit for damages.

The party who is liable for the accident may be held responsible for reimbursing an injured victim for their losses. Damages may be awarded in order to compensate a victim for:

  • Costs which are associated with any injuries, including hospital or therapy costs;
  • Costs which are associated with damage to a vehicle or other property;
  • Lost wages or earning capacity;
  • Emotional distress or pain and suffering, when it can be proven; or
  • Criminal penalties in cases which involve drunk driving and other instances of criminal negligence.

In some cases, a driver may be excused from liability if there is a legal defense which applies to their situation. A lawyer is best suited to determine what, if any, defenses are available in a specific case.

Common defenses in automobile accident cases may include:

  • Lack of proof or fault;
  • Emergency conditions;
  • Contributory or comparative negligence; and
  • Assumption of risk.

Do I Need an Attorney if I have been Involved in a Car Accident?

It is essential to have the assistance of a car accident attorney if you have been involved in a car accident. There are some types of car accidents, typically minor ones which can be handled by the parties involved and their respective insurance companies.

Having an attorney’s help may prove invaluable when an individual is discussing the accident with the other party’s insurance company. Your attorney can prevent you from agreeing to any unfair settlements and can help protect your legal rights. They can also represent you during negotiations with the other party’s insurance provider as well as represent you in court if a lawsuit becomes necessary.

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