A car accident can scare anyone, especially when it results in serious injuries. When you or another person in your vehicle are injured, you may have to take quick but careful action to ensure everyone is safe and protect their rights. Read below to learn about what to do if you’re in an accident with injuries.
Get to Safety
The first priority in the minutes after impact is to make sure you and the other occupants of your vehicle are safe. Secondary collisions are not uncommon, so if you are in the path of traffic, find safety as soon as possible. If you can get to safety in a parking lot or a grassy area, do so as quickly as you can.
Once you have removed yourself and those with you to a safe area, if you or an occupant in your vehicle is seriously injured, it is best to remain still and await medical help, unless your life is in imminent danger.
If your vehicle is functional and must move because it blocks traffic, you might take a quick moment to photograph the accident scene from a safe location to capture photographic evidence of the positions of all vehicles involved. This can be valuable to your later claim but, again, prioritize your safety and do not attempt to photograph the scene unless it is clearly safe to do so.
Call 911 and request medical assistance as soon as possible. Make sure to mention there are injuries and let the dispatcher know to the best of your ability the number of individuals injured at the scene and the type of injuries involved. This will ensure they care for everyone as quickly as possible and send sufficient help and support.
Await the Police
When you call 911 in an accident involving injuries, police should also arrive at the scene of an accident. The law often requires police presence at accident scenes with injuries; it can help you and other accident victims, as you can use the police report they produce to establish the liability of responsible parties.
Retrieve Evidence From the Scene, if Safe to Do So
An accident scene can be difficult to process, and you can easily lose focus on how to protect your legal rights. If you or a loved one is injured, worry and pain rightly consume your attention. However, if you or another occupant or bystander are physically able to do so, you should photograph or videotape the scene of the accident.
This includes damage to the vehicles involved, the license plates of all vehicles involved, the visible injuries you and your occupants have sustained, the surrounding environment of the accident location, and anything else you believe could have contributed to the accident. Again, photographs can be valuable evidence later on in bringing a claim.
Report the Accident to Your Insurer
Most insurers require that you notify them any time you are involved in a motor vehicle accident. While you must notify them based on the terms of your policy, your communication at this stage should be limited to the very basic facts of the accident. Do not make any statements at this time about how you think the accident occurred or about the severity of your injuries.
Information you can and should provide to your insurer:
- The date and time of the accident
- The location of the accident
- The location of the damage on your vehicle
- The other drivers and parties involved in the accident
- Any insurance information provided to you by another party
Recover and Follow Treatment
Once you have received emergency care and treatment at an emergency room, your focus should turn to your long-term recovery. You should follow up with all medical treatments, appointments, and rehabilitation practices as prescribed by your providers. Your dedication to your recovery will help you heal as quickly as possible. Do not let the bills deter you—ignoring your recovery can make things worse, and cost you more down the line. Furthermore, you can find a way to pay them by bringing a car accident injury claim.
Keep Notes Throughout the Process
By filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you may later need to make statements or testify about the accident and your injuries. To give a full and accurate account, keep notes or a journal. As time passes, the details of the accident, your recovery, and other things pertinent to your claim can be difficult to remember. A few notes or sentences can jog your memory if needed.
Do Not Accept a First Settlement Offer or Make a Statement
When there are injuries involved in an accident, insurers often want to move quickly and settle or deny claims as soon as they can. Do not accept a settlement offer from an insurer until you have consulted with an attorney. It is likely any settlement being offered early on is too low and will not adequately compensate you for the damages you have suffered and will suffer in the future.
Insurers also want to talk to victims of an accident as soon as they can. They do not want to talk as a courtesy or formality, but rather as an attempt to see whether or not they can deny or minimize your claim. A representative of an insurer is tasked with finding out anything about the accident and your injuries and what actions you may have taken that could be used to place fault or liability on you. You are under no obligation to even speak to the insurer of another party, and you are only required to notify your insurer that an accident has occurred.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, it is in your best interest to contact a personal injury and accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. An attorney can evaluate your case and give you an idea of the legal options that may be available to you.
Car accidents are not just inconveniences, they affect every aspect of your life and the injuries can be painful and prevent you from carrying on with your life as you did before. A car crash lawyer will fight for your rights and to protect your interests against the parties responsible for the harm caused to you or your family.