Being in a car accident is the worst nightmare for a lot of people. In fact, many people have a fear of driving, or at least an anxiety regarding driving, because they’re so worried about hitting the road. It’s understandable why. We constantly hear about horrific car accidents on the news. We’re often told that one of the leading causes of death for younger people is car accidents. Not all vehicular accidents are even restricted to cars — 2010 saw a nine-year-old boy killed by a Disney World bus, and Marco Rubio’s daughter was recently hospitalized following an accident that involved a golf cart. There are many ways in which we can prevent these types of accidents. This is why it’s become harder, in many states, for people to get and maintain drivers’ licenses. There are many ways that we can prevent vehicular accidents. The proper training and recertification is important. Of course, it’s also important that drivers are as alert and responsible as possible on the road, which is why there are strict laws regarding driving under the influence, and more recently distracted driving. Drivers are often advised to practice defensive driving — that is, to concentrate on driving responsibly and to expect that others will not be responsible.
Nonetheless, there is no way that we can completely prevent auto accidents. Some accidents are simply out of our control. This is why you need to be prepared regarding what you should do immediately following an auto accident. Some accidents are truly no one’s fault — they are true accidents, in which case you won’t need to worry about working with an accident attorney. Of course, some accidents are more intense than others. While people away uninjured from a lot of accidents — other times the damage can be much more severe, both to the vehicles and the people involved. It’s crucial to take the right steps in the immediate aftermath of a car accident; both to ensure the best possible outcomes for yourself and the other people involved, and to ensure that you are not held unnecessarily responsible for something that is not your fault. There is a reason why accident attorneys exist, after all. With that being said, let’s look into what you should do immediately after a car accident.
1. Stop And Assess
To many of us, stopping may theoretically seem to be obvious. Of course, you’ll stop after an accident — you might not have a choice, as your vehicle may be disabled. As any accident attorney can tell you, of course, this isn’t always the case. Lots of people panic after a car accident, especially if they believe that they might have done something wrong. This leads to them fleeing the scene, sometimes on pure impulse, instinct, and adrenaline. It’s not a rational decision, but it can have serious consequences. One of the most important things to do after a car accident is to stop and assess the situation. If you do not stop, even if you return to the scene later, you could potentially be charged with a hit and run. This can bump a true accident up to a serious crime, especially if someone is killed in the accident. The last thing you want is to find yourself involved in a wrongful death case. If you have reason to believe that the accident may be your fault — stay. You cannot know the full case until it has been assessed by law enforcement, as well as accident attorneys. If the accident has caused you physical harm but you are conscious and able to call the police, stay still. You don’t want to cause yourself further injury. On the other hand, as soon as you can assess that you are safe and not in immediate danger from the damage done to your vehicle, you should move by foot to a location away from oncoming vehicles. Often, people survive initial accidents only to be struck by vehicles on the road. Look at the other vehicle, and help those injured if you can. If no one has been seriously injured, you should make sure — once you know that the authorities are arriving — to take photos of the damage done. Not only will this ensure that you have your own photographic evidence for any potential legal proceedings — it can also aid in any repairs down the road. Exchange information with the other driver, should both of you be capable.
2. Pursue Medical Attention
Even if you don’t think that you’ve been seriously injured, you must seek transportation to a hospital or urgent care center. A medical assessment is important. Even if you have not been visibly injured, you may have sustained internal injuries that could cause serious complications down the road. If you have only sustained minor cuts, it may be tempting to handle your own wound care. But an accident attorney will tell you to have a medical record detailing your injuries. It’s very likely that the other person involved in the accident will do the same, and you should be proactive about recording your own case. You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t have a concussion; concussions often are not apparent to people immediately after an accident and are not taken seriously. But they can endanger your life. People often are riding high on adrenaline immediately following an accident, which keeps them from feeling the full force of their injuries. Don’t let that happen to you. Document your injuries through photographs as well as the assessment of a doctor, just as you documented the damage to your car and the scene.
3. Secure An Accident Attorney
If you are able to move on from the hospital or the urgent care center, you should move on to securing the aid of an accident attorney. Now, in the immediate aftermath of your accident you may believe that you weren’t at all responsible. What could you possibly be held responsible for? The fact is that if you are left undefended you could easily be taken advantage of, even if you aren’t at fault. People often find themselves virtually robbed following a car accident — the victim of lawsuits that could have been avoided with the help of an accident attorney. Often, people lose money simply paying court fees and settlements, even if they don’t lose the actual case. Never mind the potential legal consequences you may face. Of course, you may be on the opposite end of the spectrum; perhaps you’ve been victimized by a reckless driver, and are now facing expensive damage to your vehicle, your body, and even your psyche. Lots of people find themselves unable to work following a car accident, whether that’s due to a physical injury or psychological damage sustained. You could potentially be affected by a car accident for life — and if that’s the case, the offending party must be held responsible. Either way, a lot of people make the mistake of either defending themselves or pursuing damages without an accident attorney. Your case may seem so strong initially, but the fact is that if you are not an accident attorney you will not understand the legal channels that must be followed, at least not to the extent that is necessary. You may not want to spend money on an accident attorney following a potentially expensive accident — that’s understandable. But ultimately, you’ll likely lose more if you don’t work with an accident attorney. For that matter, a lawyer can potentially help you get the financial compensation necessary to make up for your losses. Be careful when choosing your attorney; you’ll want to work with someone who has experience with vehicular personal injury cases. Don’t leave your case up to chance. Offer your attorney all of the information that you recorded, and be completely honest about what happened during the accident. You may think yourself responsible, or totally without responsibility, but it’s difficult to know what you’re really dealing with until you’ve spoken to a lawyer. You may find it difficult to immediately hire an attorney — it’s possible that you might have to take out a loan. But the fact is that you will put yourself much more at risk if you don’t hire an attorney.
4. Inspect Your Vehicle
Often, following a car accident your vehicle will be completely damaged beyond repair. This is often referred to as your car being “totaled” — this is to say, totally destroyed. At times, a car can be declared totaled by your insurance agency because, though it can be repaired, the repairs will cost more than the car itself is worth. In cases like these, most insurance companies will pay out, which will theoretically help you buy a new car to replace the one you lost. Of course, there are cases in which your car can be repaired. You may or may not be able to cover the damage repair through your insurance agency. With that being said, you’ll still want to work with a reliable mechanic whose work you can trust, whether you’re dealing with a mere dent repair or something more serious. It’s very possible that, depending on how quickly your case is resolved, your car’s damages may be covered by the insurance agency of the other party. On the other hand, you could be given financial compensation after the fact. If you are found to be at fault, conversely, you’ll very much want to make sure that your insurance agency can back up your financial obligations. Again, this can all depend on the specific type of accident that occurred.
5. Cover Your Bases
Not every case is exactly what it seems to be at first glance — again, this is why it’s important to work with an attorney and to get the opinions of vehicle experts. Every now and then, there are specific cases in which something unusual occurs — an outlying event. One of these events is a true vehicular failure, in which no one was at fault and the vehicle failed in a manner that could not be foreseen by either driver. Check to see if your car had a recall issue that you weren’t made aware of. No matter how big or reliable the manufacturer of your car seems to be, mistakes do happen, and recalls are made to remedy these mistakes — but not always as efficiently as they should be. Toyota is a company that recently recalled millions of cars due to safety issues. Many of these issues can slip by a typical vehicle inspection. Again, this kind of information should be collected by your attorney; if you know of anything ahead of time, let them know.
There are plenty of reasons why you may be uncomfortable with attaining a lawyer immediately after a car accident. Perhaps you feel that it’s excessive. Maybe you have a negative impression of that kind of behavior. The fact is that accidents do happen; but even if something seems like a pure accident from your perspective, you need to take steps to protect yourself. Yes, you should act carefully, and responsibly. Yes, you need to make sure that yourself and the other people involved are unharmed — these are the first and most important priorities. But don’t let yourself be swept up and taken advantage of. Work with a lawyer. Be safe rather than sorry!