Been in a Serious Car Accident? Here are 5 Things to Do
The Arizona Department of Transportation reports that there were 36,139 traffic crashes resulting in injuries in 2015. Motor vehicle accidents can often leave victims with injuries that require emergency medical attention and may result in lifelong medical problems or disabilities.
For example, even a relatively minor wreck could result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), burns, or spinal cord injuries, all of which could produce long-term consequences. For this reason, car accident victims can frequently sustain significant economic and noneconomic losses after an accident.
For example, a TBI may result in a lengthy hospital stay that costs tens of thousands of dollars, and produces lost income because of missed work. Furthermore, victims may also experience significant pain and suffering and be unable to participate in activities that they once enjoyed.
Because car accidents can cause such serious and long-term losses, it is important for victims to do everything they can to protect their rights. We provide below some of the steps you can take after an accident that will maximize your chances of being able to recover financial compensation for your losses.
Call 911 Immediately
The first thing that you should do after an accident is call 911, as it is important to make sure that both emergency medical personnel and law enforcement respond to the scene. In fact, if the accident involved injury, the law requires that you report the incident to police.
Emergency medical personnel will make sure that any people who need emergency medical treatment receive it, and law enforcement will evaluate the cause of the crash and determine whether there were any traffic violations that may have contributed to the accident.
Typically, the police will interview and memorialize the statements of any witnesses to the accident. In addition, as police and emergency medical personnel interview drivers, they will also have an opportunity to determine whether drugs and/or alcohol played a role. If a driver was intoxicated or violated a traffic law, it may make it easier to prove liability and recover compensation.
Document Information about Your Wreck
If you are physically able to do so, you should collect information about the people involved in the accident and the way in which your accident occurred. If you have a phone that has a camera function (or a standalone camera), you should take pictures of the aftermath of the collision and the surrounding area.
Take pictures of the accident scene from different angles, in order to make sure that people viewing the photos can understand the geographical context, lighting, and any other factors that may have played a role. Pay special attention to problems with the other vehicles that may have existed prior to the accident, such as underinflated tires, broken taillights, inoperable windshield wipers, or cracked windshields.
Examples of important information you should document include the following:
• The names of the other drivers involved, and their insurance information
• The license plate numbers of all involved vehicles
• The weather conditions at the time of the crash
• Any hazardous road conditions that you believe may have caused or contributed to the accident
• Contact information from anyone who may have witnessed the crash
See Your Physician
It is extremely important to see a doctor soon after an accident, even if you do not think your injuries warrant urgent medical care. Certain trauma-induced injuries frequently do not become symptomatic for several days after an accident has occurred.
Similarly, a serious internal or orthopedic injury can seem minor at first, and only later develop into a serious medical issue. As a result, if you do not promptly see a doctor, your injuries may not be correctly diagnosed and treated, potentially leading to more significant problems in the future.
A failure to get prompt medical care – even for an injury that begins to resolve on its own – may mean unnecessarily living with pain or discomfort for longer than you have to. Protecting and advancing your personal health is most important, certainly, but there are additional reasons to see a doctor promptly.
Besides making sure your injuries are properly treated, seeing a physician achieves an important legal objective as well – it creates an official record that can be used as evidence. By promptly getting that needed medical care, you will also generate a medical record that describes your injuries, their severity, and that relates the injuries to the trauma of the collision.
Importantly, if you fail to see a physician as soon as you can after an accident, that delay may be exploited by the insurance carrier for the negligent driver. The carrier may argue that some intervening event caused or exacerbated your injuries, potentially hurting your chances of recovering compensation.
Consider Your Social Media Posts Very Carefully
These days, sharing Tuesday afternoon’s lunch on social media is considered acceptable, so it may seem only natural to Facebook or Tweet about a serious car accident in which you were involved. Keep in mind, though, that anything you post to social media is fair game to be used as evidence in your case. So it important to be careful about what you post, and be mindful that it will not be viewed by only your friends.
For example, a narrative statement about your accident such as “while I was on the phone I was nailed by another car!” may be used to indicate that you were distracted while you were driving. Similarly, if you post pictures of yourself out and about with friends after your accident, they could be used to undermine your claims regarding the severity of your injuries. As a general rule, it is a good idea to stay off of social media as much as possible after an accident.
Call a Lawyer
Arizona law provides a remedy for victims of auto accidents to secure compensation – sometimes significant compensation. That being said, actually getting an insurance company to pay money can be a difficult and complicated legal matter, so it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible following an accident.
If an insurance company calls you before you are represented by counsel, simply inform them that you are in the process of finding a lawyer and hang up the phone. In addition, be sure not to sign any paperwork provided by the at-fault party or his or her insurance company until you have an attorney review it.
Call Miller Weber Kory LLP Today for a Free Consultation
If you have been hurt in an accident, let one of our skilled Phoenix personal injury lawyers review your case at no cost to you. To schedule your free case evaluation, call our office today at 602-648-4045 or contact us online.