What to do when you’ve been in a car accident

Driving a vehicle is probably the most dangerous mode of transportation according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Especially when you consider that in 2007, approximately 6.2 million motor vehicle crashes and over 41,000 traffic fatalities were reported to police. That’s an average of 112 lives lost per day due to car accidents in the United States.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident your whole life flashes before your eyes, and typically, it’s difficult to think clearly because you’re in shock. That’s why it’s not only imperative to know what to do in order to protect your rights if you’re involved in a car accident; it’s also wise to pack an emergency kit containing the following items in case of a collision.

Your vehicle’s emergency kit should include:

  • A cell phone
  • Pen and paper
  • Your medical information-including any prescription drugs, allergies or medical conditions
  • A list of emergency contacts
  • Reflective cones and/or warning flares
  • A first aid kit
  • Your vehicle’s insurance card
  • The name and number for your PI attorney

Although we all do our best to prepare for the worst and drive responsibly, car accidents still occur. Worse yet, they tend to result from a number of factors that are beyond our control-such as drivers talking on cell phones, speeding, texting, reckless driving, failure to obey traffic signals, defective vehicles, and other factors like use of drugs and alcohol. When you consider all of the dangers on the road, you can understand why it’s smart to be prepared.

If you are involved in a car accident, you will likely feel shock followed by fear, anxiety and anger. All of these emotions are normal after being involved in a traumatic event like a car accident. Immediately following a car collision, follow these safety steps:

  • Attempt to compose yourself by taking a few deep breaths
  • Assess yourself for injuries (note that not all injuries are visible)
  • Decide if it’s safe to exit your vehicle
  • If you’re injured or if you can’t get out of your car
  • Keep your seat belt fastened
  • Switch on your hazard lights
  • Call 911 immediately and give the emergency dispatcher this information:
    • Your name and phone number (in case authorities need to reach you)
    • As much detail as you can about the accident, for example, how many vehicles and people are involved, any medical emergencies or immediate dangers
    • Give your exact location-the city, street name, nearest intersection and direction
    • And finally, stay on the line until the dispatcher has all of the information they need to locate you
  • Wait for emergency response to arrive

If you are uninjured and the collision is minor:

  • Turn off your car’s engine
  • Get your emergency car kit
  • Place reflective warning cones or emergency flares around the accident site to alert oncoming traffic

Next, if you are feeling well enough, follow these steps to secure evidence and protect your rights:

  1. Use a GPS to identify your location
  2. If you haven’t already, call 911 and report your location
  3. Check on potentially injured persons
  4. Stabilize those who need immediate medical assistance
  5. Photograph damage to all vehicles involved in the collision as well as any distinctive features of the road or intersection
  6. Draw a rough sketch of the crash site-including the location of each car, the direction they came from, what lane they were in, etc.
  7. Record the date, time, and weather conditions
  8. Photograph all other drivers involved in the traffic collision
  9. Take down license plates and insurance information-ask to see their driver’s licenses, record names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance companies, insurance policy numbers, and license plate numbers
  10. If any drivers don’t own the car they were driving, be sure to get the owner’s information
  11. Take a complete list of people involved-including other drivers, witnesses and reporting officers

Regardless of the seriousness of your car accident, you will need to contact an experienced PI attorney who will discuss your rights, tell you how to secure the proper evidence, and ensure your protection in the event of an automobile accident. Smartphone applications, such as “My Lawyer” (from Bachus & Schanker) can be uploaded for free to your Android or iPhone as a preventative measure. The car accident attorneys at Bachus & Schanker are always on call to take on your case. If you are involved in a traffic collision, the app is instantly at your fingertips with all of the vital information and tools, including:

  • An accident checklist
  • Tips and checklists that help you catalogue and organize photographic evidence
  • Detailed steps for documenting fault, property damage and injury
  • Information for collecting witness and insurance information
  • A quiz to test your legal knowledge
  • An overview of your legal rights
  • A phone number for a free consultation
  • A free initial case inquiry submission

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