What to Do After a Car Accident
More fatal car accidents are recorded every year in the United States than in other developed countries, according to a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013 alone, more than 32,000 people died on US roads, which is about 90 per day.
The US has recorded a 31% reduction in motor vehicle deaths over the last 13 years. 18,000 more lives could be saved if the US had taken the same measures which its developed counterparts did. The statistics are as follows:
- The US ranks first in crash deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles & 100,000 people.
- 31% of deaths result from drunken driving
- 87% of deaths resulted from non-use of seat belts
- Data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows a 7.7% increase in road deaths in 2015, up from 32,600 in 2014.
- The US is witness to over 6 million car accidents every year.
- A personal injury is seen in 1 out of 3 accidents.
- 2 out of 10 accidents result in a fatal injury.
If you are a motorist or a passenger in an accident, this is what you need to do if you are involved in a car accident:
- Remain on site: Never flee the scene of the accident, even if it’s a minor one unless you are injured and need immediate medical attention. A typical hit and run could result in some very serious legal consequences and severe penalties if you are proven guilty.
- Demarcate the accident siteMore accidents may be prevented if you set up flares or keep your car’s flashers on. If the accident happens when it’s dark, keep a powerful flashlight on to attract passing vehicles if your headlights aren’t working. If you do not have a flashlight, stand to the side (out of harm’s way) and wait for the police.
- Inform the police: If there’s serious property damage, gross injury or even death, get in touch with the police immediately (you should do this regardless though; all accidents have to be reported if there is any damage to either car or anyone is hurt). The report given by the police is essential for filing the necessary claims with your insurer, even if it’s just for vehicular damages. Don’t remove the vehicle from the site unless it is obstructing traffic.
- Keep accurate records: When the police arrive, tell them the facts and hide nothing. Even if you are unsure of something, admit it. Leave no room for speculation or guessing. When asked if you are injured and you are unsure, say it because many times injuries from car accidents are not apparent and do not manifest themselves until hours, days, or weeks later. Keep track of all statements made by others involved in the accident and ensure that they too, are accurate.
- Take photographs: Take photos with your cell phone or a camera of all damaged vehicles involved in the accident, preferably with the date and time. Also photograph all physical injuries for insurance reasons. If, for some reason, pictures can’t be taken immediately after the accident, take them as early as possible after it.
- Exchange information: Write down the names, addresses, contact numbers, and insurance details of all parties involved. Get full details of all eye witnesses, if there are any, for possible future use. Make sure to write the number of the police report so that you get a copy of it later and ensure you are on the same page as the police officer. If the accident happens on a state highway, the report will be available from the state police.
- Inform your insurance company: Notify your insurer ASAP to avoid unnecessary delays and time stipulations. Find out if medical benefits are available with your insurance coverage, provided you have “med pay”. This would cover your medical bills, subject to any submission of any receipts for all medical expenses incurred. Once med pay coverage, which is available to all the vehicle’s occupants at the time of the accident, is exhausted, private health insurance coverage takes over. Remember that insurance premium rates do not increase if you utilize med pay.
- File all documents: You should file away all accident-related documents since every document is valuable for compensation purposes. Information on claim numbers, names and details of the claim adjuster, names, addresses and contact numbers of all witnesses, receipts for alternative transportation, and other assorted expenses relating to the accident must be preserved. You can have a digital file and a paper file too. You do not have to print everything out if you do not need to.
- Secure legal assistance: Get in touch with an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. Do not sign anything with any insurance company no matter what they say. They are not on your side and the amount they may offer you is most likely not enough, and probably not even close to being enough. You have no idea what this is going to cost you, so do not sign anything without consulting an attorney to make sure your rights are protected. Get a legal representative ASAP!