Road travel is perhaps the most commonly utilized means of transportation today across the globe. Sadly, global road accident statistics show that each year over 1.25 million people die in road accident-related incidences. In the United States, statistics show that over 37,000 road users die as a result of road crashes, with an additional 3.4 billion being injured or disabled.
Being involved in a road crash is, therefore, quite a common occurrence in the US. One of the crucial things that every motorist should know is what to do in the aftermath of such an accident. Understanding the measures to take immediately after occurrence or involvement in an accident can help save lives and time while also expediting the recovery process. Here are some crucial steps to always initiate and take after a car accident.
Stop and stay at the scene
The first crucial and recommended measure to take after involvement in a car accident is to stop right at the scene. Remaining at the accident scene until the first responders arrive is an act of compliance with the law. Being involved in a hit-and-run accident is a criminal offense which can land you in serious trouble. Immediately after the accident, you should endeavor to disembark from your car and stay at a safe distance for post-accident procedures to take course after the arrival of law enforcement. However, in case the other motorist flees from the accident scene, you should immediately inform West Coast Trial Lawyers, one of the reputable car injury law firms in the market. An auto injury lawyer would, in such a case, provide legal advice and help you get compensation for property damage and injuries.
Protecting the accident scene
The next important step to take is to barricade the scene of the accident as a cautionary measure to other motorists. This can be done by setting flares at a safe distance of about 30 meters at the front and rear of the car accident scene. In case you don’t have the flyers with you, you may have to use the triangular hazard warning signs and have them appropriately displayed both rear and front.
Such barricades are crucial in helping keep away motorists from causing secondary accidents where they may crash into the stationary vehicle wreckage. It also serves as an indicator to first responders such as medical personnel and police officers whenever they come looking for you after the accident. In case the accident occurs in the middle of the road, and the vehicles remain in a derivable state, then it may be reasonable enough to drive off-the-road to the shoulders as you wait for police assistance.
Inform the police
In a road accident of whatever magnitude, the police should be appropriately informed. This is irrespective of whether persons have been injured or property has been damaged. The law requires that the police are involved for them to write an official post-accident report which can be used for further insurance claiming processes. You may have to inform the police by calling the local police helplines, individual police officers that you may know, or even contacting the police helpline number 911 for assistance.
When informing the police, it is recommended that you dispatch as much information as possible. Among the crucial information that you should relay to them include: –
- Where the accident occurred – This ensures that the police can have an easy time locating you and ensuring that any medical attention required arrives right on time. To effectively do this, you may have to name the exact road or highway you are in or the approximate distance to the nearest town from your location.
- Persons injured – This ensures that the police can dispatch medical personnel to the accident scene even before they arrive. You should, therefore, describe the conditions of the accident victims in terms of the seriousness of the injuries sustained.
Assessing of injuries and damage
As you wait for the police and medical help to arrive, you may want to walk around, if possible, and assess the conditions of all persons in the cars involved in the accident. If it is a single car accident, and you are the only person involved, then you may need to assess yourself for common accident injuries that passengers normally sustain. The assessment should focus on skin bruises, fractured bones, skin cuts, bleeding, and other forms of internal pain.
After the assessment, it is highly recommendable to sit down and relax as most accident victims normally panic. Informing your car accident personal injury lawyer would help you get justice and compensation for the sustained injuries. You may also want to communicate with the other motorists in the car involved in the accident. When establishing such communication, it is important to maintain calm and avoid discussing the accident itself in terms of who was at fault. Good communication should focus on any injuries suffered, and whether such persons need medical attention.
Property damage can also be assessed by evaluating the condition of the vehicles involved in the accident. The visual assessment gives you an idea of how serious the accident was. During the assessment, you may want to take pictures which can then be preserved and come in handy in cases where the vehicles are moved before law enforcement arrives. Some insurance companies may also require you to send such pictures to them as proof of accident even as they wait for the official police report.
Notifying your attorney
As part of the entire process of handling the accident, you should endeavor to appropriately notify an auto injury lawyer, preferably from reputable car injury law firms such as West Coast Trial Lawyers. The auto injury lawyer would, in this case, come in handy in helping advise you accordingly on what to do during the entire process to ensure that justice is served.
The car accident personal injury lawyer may, for example, advise you on the necessary paperwork to keep such as medical reports, police accident reports, medical receipts, and vehicle damage assessment reports. Such documents may prove crucial when seeking compensation from your insurance company.
Speak to the police and make your submissions
Once the police arrive, they would probably want to speak to the drivers, onlookers, and other passengers involved in the accident. As one of the drivers, you should endeavor to make an accurate submission on what happened in the few seconds before the accident occurred. Your statements will probably be recorded and should, therefore, be as reliable as possible. In case you have additional evidence that may corroborate your statements such as DashCam video recordings, then it will be wise to present them to the police for assessment.
The police would probably seek additional statements from the other accident witnesses and any other valuable source of information. The information provided to the police during this stage comes in handy in helping them make an accurate and reliable post-accident abstract or report. In your statement and submissions, it is important to avoid blaming anyone as the police would be liable to establish that with accuracy and precision.
Inform your insurance company
As the police continue assessing the accident scene, you should take the opportunity to inform your insurance company of your involvement in the accident. Insurance companies, working with their agents and agencies, rely on prompt accident notification to set in chain the necessary steps towards compensation.
At this stage of notification to the insurance company, you should avoid taking liability until the police release an official report. However, the insurance company may require you to provide additional information relating to the vehicles and parties involved in the accident. For example, you should inform them of your insurance number, name, driver’s license number, and any other pertinent information that may be required of you to ensure ease of tracing of your insurance papers and records.
Exchange information where necessary
You should also focus on collecting some information from the other driver and vehicle involved in the accident. Among the important information that may be necessary at some point in the process of post-accident processing of issues such as insurance include the name of the driver, his or her driver’s license number, the car registration number, the vehicle insurance number, personal contacts, and residential address of the driver.
Such information may prove crucial in cases where the insurance companies need to track and trace the driver and vehicles involved in the accident, depending on the outcome of the police report. Besides, collecting personal information from the other driver becomes a good starting point for building a good relationship even after the accident.
Follow up on the compensation process
After the entire process is over and insurance companies take over the processing of insurance claims, you may probably want to do regular follow-ups with your agent. This is because some insurance companies take unprecedentedly long to issue reimbursements and compensations. It is highly advisable to work with car injury law firms which would assign you a car accident personal injury lawyer to help in the pursuit for expedited compensation. West Coast trial lawyers go a step further to file and follow-up on any court cases seeking justice for persons injured in car accidents, especially in cases where the insurance companies do not take liability and hit-and-run accident situations.