Sometimes the facts are difficult to hear. Unfortunately, the average driver will crash their car once every 17.9 years. For the average driver, that will amount to three to four total accidents during their lifetime. While there isn’t much that will make that less difficult to hear, there are appropriate steps you can take when and if you are involved in a car accident.
These steps will spare you unnecessary medical costs and repair costs and may even ensure that you get required medical treatment, like surgery or rehabilitative physical therapy, faster.
Car accident situations are widely variable. The factors leading up to the crash and the circumstances surrounding it change from case to case. Knowing what to do can be challenging in a pinch, particularly when anxiety is rampant and the stakes are high. Do your research now so you will know what to do should the worst happen.
Here is a step-by-step breakdown of what to do in various car accident situations.
A Drunk Driving Accident
Alcohol is one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents. According to DriverKnowledge.com, alcohol leads to 40% of crash-related fatalities. Unfortunately, if you are looking for a DUI defense attorney, learning these figures now may be a bit overdue.
Drunk driving is all-too-common. “More than 4 million U.S. adults admit they drink and drive at least sometimes, a number that adds up to more than 121 million times someone who has had one too many is on the road each year,” NBC News writes. Plus, people are notoriously poor judges of their ability to drive after a couple of drinks. According to a survey from the American Addiction Centers (AAC), 65% describe themselves as okay to drive after one to two alcoholic drinks. An alarming 15% feel they can drive safely after consuming three to four drinks.
While these figures do not excuse drunk driving, they suggest that there are markedly more Americans meeting with DUI defense attorneys than you might expect. If you find yourself among them, here is what you need to do immediately following a crash.
First, if you are able, begin by treating it like any other crash. That means you must remain at the scene, call 911, and wait for the police to arrive. Doing anything else will only make the situation worse. Secondly, politely exchange information, but do not apologize or admit fault. It may surprise you to learn that “driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol doesn’t mean you’re automatically at fault for an accident,” according to Nolo.com. Do not admit culpability, and realize that some drivers will take an apology as an admission of guilt. Be civil, but do not say anything you will regret later.
Lastly, cooperate with authorities. Follow all instructions from police officers who arrive on the scene. Officers will prioritize safety in dire car accident situations. If you are relatively injury-free, you may be asked to take a breathalyzer or field sobriety test. While legal advice may vary by firm, many lawyers recommend taking these tests. Not taking them can be a violation of the law in and of itself in certain states or jurisdictions. In some states, officers may be able to legally confiscate and suspend your driver’s license at the scene.
A Truck Accident
In 2018, 4,951 people died in large truck-related collisions. Unfortunately, that is a sharp increase when compared to prior years — an increase by as much as 46%. Further, fatal truck accidents often claim the lives of those in other vehicles (71%) or bicyclists and pedestrians (11%). These facts make one thing clear: If you survive, truck-related accidents are extremely dangerous. Here is what to do if you are in a crash with a large truck.
First, call the police. Nearly all car accident situations have one thing in common. It is always necessary to call the police. Second, treat your injuries. Don’t skip this step, even if you feel confident about the extent of your injuries. “There may also be an underlying injury, such as internal bleeding, of which you are not aware. Seeking medical attention is the only way to know for sure the extent of your injuries,” HG.org warns. Additionally, document the scene and contact your insurance company. Take photos of your vehicle and of any injuries that you may have. Contact your insurance company right away.
Finally, talk to a truck accident attorney. Car accident situations vary a great deal, and accidents involving at least one large truck are especially unique. Talk to a truck accident attorney. These attorneys specialize in the field. They will be able to help you navigate the nuances of the law. If you are a trucker, you and your company be dealing with increased liability. A lawyer can help you demonstrate that you are following regulations and help you pay only what is necessary. If you are in a passenger vehicle, you may be entitled to additional compensation.
Your Car Is Totaled
A total loss can elicit an especially emotional response. In a total loss, the stressors of serious injuries, replacing your car altogether, and determining what to do in the interim can weigh heavily on your shoulders.
You can somewhat mitigate that stress by knowing exactly what to do in the most extreme car accident situations. First, call a towing service. When the police arrive at the scene, talk about towing services. You may be able to call the towing company you or your insurance company prefers, or the officer may call the towing service for you.
Secondly, document the scene, and start the claims process immediately. Filing a total loss claim with your insurance company is very different than completing a run-of-the-mill repair, like a windshield replacement. The process can be lengthy. “The sooner you file the claim, the sooner the insurance company can start working on your claim,” The Balance advises. Lastly, locate your title, determine the value of your vehicle and the remaining balance you owe on the vehicle, and reconcile those numbers with payouts from your insurance company.
You’re Injured In A Crash
Car accident situations are markedly different when you sustain injuries. According to DriveKnowledge.com, over 3 million people sustain injuries in car accidents every year. Two million sustain permanent injuries that will follow them for the rest of their lives, and as many as 1,060 of these injuries can be attributed to distracted driving. Follow these steps if you’re injured in a car crash.
First, call the police and report any relevant details. As with most car accident situations, it is imperative to call the police. In order to file an injury claim, it is often necessary for officers to document injuries in their accident reports. Inform the officer about any injuries you may have and if you have suspicions that the other driver has been drinking or was on their phone at the time of the crash, mention that too. Mention anything that might ultimately be relevant to your case.
Next, obtain medical treatment right away and get a copy of your medical records. Receiving appropriate healthcare is important for your well-being as well as your claim. Some injuries, like whiplash, may only become obvious hours or even days after the crash. Call a medical professional and document any symptoms right away. The longer you take to document injuries, the more likely they will be ruled irrelevant to the car crash. If you are uncertain whether something is a fleeting symptom or a sign that things are growing worse, call your doctor anyway.
Finally, talk to a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer specializes in accidents like yours. They will know what to do with your documentation and will know how to ensure that you get adequate compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and any lost wages.
You Have A Disability
Having a disability and then being involved in a collision or car crash is one of the trickiest car accident situations. Why? Unfortunately, a preexisting condition can complicate matters. An unscrupulous insurance company may try to argue that severe back pain, for example, results from your condition, not from the crash.
An experienced disability defense lawyer can help. A disability lawyer will ensure that you receive appropriate compensation. It is illegal for insurance companies to reject your claim simply because you have a preexisting condition. An attorney can help you identify any foul play and do something about it.
Additionally, you get compensation if the accident makes your condition worse. According to the Eggshell Doctrine, you will receive compensation in these circumstances if “the victim’s pre-existing condition was stable” and “prior to the accident, there was no reason to think that the victim’s condition would change or become worse,” HG.org writes. Be sure to have your medical history and recent medical records at the ready. As the source and severity of your injuries may come into question, it is that much more important to provide appropriate documentation.
You Are Arrested At The Scene
One of the most precarious car accident situations is one that ends in your arrest. While a considerable number of people admit that they drink and drive, you can expect to be held accountable for your lack of judgment. If you are arrested at the scene of a car crash, here are the next steps you should take.
First and foremost, cooperate with law enforcement. It is essential to listen to all police instructions and follow them. Stay humble and courteous. It is not the time to speak up or speak out. In fact, that can easily work against you.
Then, contact a criminal defense lawyer. A criminal defense lawyer can help you whether you are arrested for driving drunk, driving while under the influence, or you are arrested on other charges, like drug possession. A defense attorney will try to help you negotiate a lower sentence. They may be able to save you money and even jail time. Lawyers will use things like good behavior or your enrollment in a rehabilitation program to negotiate with the judge and/or jury.
Finally, determine if you need bail bondsmen. If you are arrested and need to post bail, chances are you may need to work with a bail bondsman to do it. Bail is often thousands and thousands of dollars — more than most Americans have in their savings account. An alternative is to enter into an agreement with a bail bonds agent. That agent will charge you a nominal fee (about 10%) to arrange your release. In return, you are required to show up on your appointed court date. If you do not show, that is a breach of your bond or contract.
Steps To Take Now
Knowing what to do in various car accident situations is invaluable. Of course, many of us do not want to wait until we are in the heat of the moment. Many of us would prefer to prepare ourselves for the worst right now. While it is impossible to prepare yourself for all the eventualities of a car crash years before the fact, there are some things you can do right now that will help should you get in an accident.
Start by securing affordable car insurance. Yes, it is true that states require a minimum amount of insurance to legally keep your car on the road. Do your research carefully. Consider purchasing additional insurance if it makes sense for you.
Consider taking a defensive driving course. This can help prevent accidents and, in many cases, it also lowers your insurance premiums. Lower insurance payments are wildly helpful especially if you are in a crash months or years from now.
Finally, stay on top of car maintenance. If your vehicle is — as the saying goes — held together by spit and glue, it is vulnerable to serious damages in the event of a crash. Keeping up on regular maintenance, on the other hand, generally means your vehicle will fare better in an accident or collision.
Unfortunately, the roads may be more dangerous than ever before. With more people working from home and fewer people on the roads every day, drivers are taking more risks and driving with less care. “Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council (NSC) show a year-over-year 36.6% jump in fatality rates per miles driven in April,” the NSC reports.
Stay safe out there and know how to calmly and appropriately react if you are involved in a car crash.