The Accident Scene
The sounds of tires squealing on the pavement, the resulting crash of impact, shattering glass, and the whine of oncoming sirens are terrifying enough to chill anyone’s blood. For a few seconds after a collision, everything might even seem silent. A fine powder from the deploying airbag might hang in the air, and you might notice the rush of cars passing by as you try to sort out exactly what happened. In that split second, when your vehicle crumpled against another, your journey transformed from a routine drive into a life-changing accident. In the span of just a few heartbeats, everything changed.
What happens next?
Keep these basic steps in mind, but if you were already in an accident, hiring a lawyer will help even more:
- Whatever you do, don’t leave the scene of the accident. Contact first responders by dialing 911, preferably with a cell phone, or ask someone who has witnessed the accident to call for assistance.
- Check to see if you and your passengers are in immediate danger. Carefully exit the vehicle if this is the case, such as fire, heavy traffic, or bad weather that might put you at risk for more injuries. If there is no immediate danger, stay put and wait for help.
- Check to see the condition of the driver and passengers of the other vehicle.
- The next thing is essential to remember. You have just been in an accident, and you might not be thinking clearly. Do not assume fault for the accident.
- Exchange information with the other driver if possible.
- Gather as much information as you can. Take pictures of the accident scene, both vehicles, insurance information, license plates, and even use your smartphone to record contact information with any witnesses. You cannot rely solely on police to provide this information, as it may not always be accurate. Try to eliminate as many points of human error between yourself and a possible court hearing as possible.
- Take pictures of the road, intersection, or other conditions that set the stage for the accident. Most cell phones are an excellent resource for gathering information. In your rattled condition, a picture of an insurance card is much more reliable than trying to write down the information.
- Try to remain calm at all times. You are not obligated to engage anyone in an argument or other altercation. After all, emotions might be running very high at this point, and it is more helpful for everyone involved to act with a clear head.
- Contact an attorney before contacting your insurance company. An attorney can advise you of your options and how to best move forward with your claim.
Some causes of accidents
Accidents do happen, even though the probability of a car accident decreases the more vigilant both drivers are.
Here are some common causes of accidents that have the potential to change your life in ways you never wanted:
- Cell phones: As handy as they are, and as much as we’ve come to rely on them, drivers distracted by cell phones cause a large percentage of accidents.
- Texting and driving: Texting and driving is perhaps one of the most deadly culprits of being distracted and driving simultaneously. Was the person who hit you texting before the collision?
- Driving under the influence: Whether it is alcohol or other substances, being intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle reduces reaction time and might even create a sensation of “target fixation” where a driver will inadvertently veer into other cars. Did you notice empty liquor bottles in the other driver’s vehicle, or did you smell alcohol on their breath? Were their pupils pin-holed or dilated?
- Defective vehicles: Vehicles with defective safety devices such as mirrors and turn signals make it harder to avoid accidents since they provide crucial information to other drivers sharing the road. Structural problems throughout the vehicle, like bad brakes, might also create problems.
We often take for granted just how dangerous driving our vehicles around every day actually is. Even a car in top condition with regular maintenance and inspections is still thousands of pounds of steel, glass, and rubber traveling down the road at high speeds. Just a little bit of water on the road can cause skids and collisions. We are at the mercy of other factors, too, such as the skill of other drivers and whether or not they are distracted or driving aggressively.
Common injuries following car accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury: When two massive objects such as cars collide, the soft tissues of those riding inside are affected by physics, which means that the brain can be bruised by sudden impacts, even without signs of direct trauma. Studies show that concussions and other brain injuries may have long-lasting consequences and even lead to permanent disability.
- Whiplash: Injuries to the neck and spine may result in nerve damage throughout the body and even require surgery. Shortly after an accident, an injury of this sort might not be apparent; but it may present significant problems further down the line.
- Internal bleeding: At the scene of an accident, even if you don’t have cuts or breaks, you might have been injured in less obvious ways. A ruptured spleen or liver might not be noticeable right away.
- Serious injuries: Due to the severity of impact on our soft tissue and bones, an auto accident can cause significant damage, including dismemberment and death.
- Psychological damage: Surviving a car accident can also carry long-term mental health repercussions. The trauma of the impact might lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, cognitive difficulties, and other conditions.
Unfortunately, dealing with insurance companies is not one of the more manageable parts of dealing with a car accident. Insurance companies might try to low-ball their customers to settle a claim more quickly than they should. An attorney might get better results in negotiations with an insurance company than private customers.
All drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles safely and following the rules of the road. Distracted, intoxicated, or reckless drivers should be held accountable for the damages and injuries their actions caused.
When to call an attorney
In short, after an auto accident, contact an attorney to navigate your insurance claim or even take your case to court. This is especially true if injuries or significant damages to your property are involved. In the unfortunate event of serious injury, death, or permanent disability, an attorney will help you fight for your rights and compensation to start your life over again.