The average American will find themselves in four car accidents over their lifetime. While this number might sound high, it’s a wake-up call to anyone who has managed to avoid a collision thus far. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just bad drivers who get into crashes – in fact, many accident victims are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If you should find yourself in a car accident, you may feel overwhelmed, frightened and unsure of how to proceed. This is especially true for those who have never been involved in such an incident before. By educating yourself on how to handle a car accident, you’ll be prepared for the worst case scenario.
Check for Injuries
Car accidents can get your adrenaline pumping. The shock of being involved in a wreck can send our bodies into fight-or-flight mode, limiting the impact pain has on our systems. In many cases, injured victims don’t even realize they’re hurt until hours after the wreck. By this point, they may have exacerbated their injuries. That’s why it’s so important to check for injuries immediately after a crash occurs.
Perform a simple scan of your body to determine if there are any obvious wounds. Blood, torn clothing, and pain are the biggest tip-offs. Passengers, too, should examine themselves for injuries. If possible, check to see if the other drivers involved in the wreck are hurt. Call an ambulance for anyone in need of medical attention.
Even if you don’t think you’re injured, it’s worth having a doctor check you over for signs of whiplash. Symptoms often don’t show up for days after a wreck has occurred, and the insurance company will look for any reason to deny a delayed claim that’s not obviously connected to the incident. Be your own best advocate and get examined by paramedics or a doctor as soon after a wreck as possible.
Move Your Vehicle
Once you’ve determined you’re not seriously hurt, you’ll want to move the vehicles involved in the crash out of the way of traffic. While it’s nice not to inconvenience other drivers, this step has more important ramifications. Staying safe and avoiding further collisions is crucial at this point. It also offers you the opportunity to call the police and alert them to the accident.
You might be hoping to avoid such a call, but every car accident merits a conversation with the police. For minor incidents, call the non-emergency line to alert authorities of the crash. Depending on the severity of the collision and how busy the police are at the moment, the operator may or may not send officials to the scene. Either way, though, the crash will be documented and a police report will be created. This is crucial for filing an insurance claim.
While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, take a moment to chat with the other driver. Exchange driver’s license information, insurance details, license plate numbers, and contact information. You’ll also want to gather any evidence you can to show which driver was at fault. Take photos, record video, and talk with witnesses about what they saw. The information you gather at the scene can be vitally important when filing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver.
Even after you leave the scene of the crash, it’s a good idea to collect documentation of the incident. Get a copy of the police report and save any medical bills you receive for treatment of injuries sustained in the wreck. If you’re hoping to be compensated for something related to the accident, you’ll need to have proof that you sustained financial damages. Even the time off work you take to recuperate can be covered by a car accident settlement. Lost wages are typically compensated for, so long as you show the impact the accident had on your pay stub.
Find Your Allies
While most accident victims are eager to put their wreck behind them as soon as possible, the insurance company may drag out the claims process for several months. For this reason, it’s important to find your allies in the wake of a crash. An experienced car accident lawyer can represent you in negotiations with the insurance company and ensure you get a fair settlement. If necessary, they can even file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for the damage they’ve caused.
If you’re hoping to minimize the number of calls you make and emails you write in the days and weeks after an accident, online resources can help. A one-stop shop like Lawsuit Info Center can provide you with the tools you need to protect your best interests. The car accident settlement calculator, for example, is a great feature for anyone curious about how much their insurance claim is worth. Best of all, we can connect you with experienced attorneys in your area – many of whom offer free initial consultations for new clients.
By surrounding yourself with the right information, resources, and allies, you’ll make the best of a bad situation and ensure your rights are protected.