An average of 6 million car accidents happen annually in the U.S. That’s over 16,000 crashes per day. With those statistics, you may likely be involved in an auto collision at some point. Do you know what you should do while you’re at the scene? Your actions may help or damage your health and the likelihood of obtaining compensation for damages.
What Should You Do at the Scene of a Car Crash?
Collisions are unexpected and can leave you injured and shaken up. It’s typically challenging to think clearly. Keep this list handy, so you’ll know what steps you should — and shouldn’t — take. First, we’ll discuss what you need to do.
Don’t Leave the Scene
Laws require those involved in car accidents to remain at the scene. If you leave, you may be charged with a hit and run, even if you didn’t cause the accident. You can also find it more difficult to seek compensation for damages.
Assess and Assist
Assess yourself and other occupants of your car for injuries. Assist if you’re able. If you’re mobile, you can also attempt to assist those in other vehicles. At the very least, you can accurately assess the kinds of injuries people sustained.
Call the Police
Don’t assume that someone else has already dialed 911. Call the police and give the dispatcher relevant details about the crash, including how many people have injuries and how severe they are. This vital information helps dispatchers determine how many first responders and medical personnel they’ll send to the accident scene.
Evidence might be washed away by rain, destroyed by wind, or hidden by others involved in the crash. Use your phone to gather evidence, including:
- Vehicle damage
- The entire accident scene from several points of view
- Skid marks, potholes, and other evidence on the road
- Weather and lighting conditions
- Witnesses present and their statements
- Any other pertinent details
Taking photos and videos immediately after your accident is essential. Your car accident lawyer will use them when preparing your case.
Accept or Seek Medical Attention
There are two important reasons to accept medical treatment at the scene of an accident. If dispatchers don’t send medical personnel, you should visit a doctor, clinic, or emergency room when you leave.
Some injuries develop over time. Some aren’t evident in a visual inspection. You might be unaware of internal bleeding, for example. Medical professionals must examine you to determine your medical condition; it may save your life.
Your Personal Injury Claim
The results of your initial examination will be compiled into a report. This report is vital evidence for your insurance claim and a potential civil lawsuit. Opposing insurance companies often state that you didn’t receive your injuries in the accident. Your attorney will use your medical report to stop these false accusations.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
A competent car accident lawyer can assist you in many ways after a crash. When you choose Siegfried & Jensen, we will:
- Assess your case and give advice
- Speak to insurance company representatives on your behalf
- Fill out the required paperwork and submit it for you
- Investigate your accident to gather evidence and determine fault
- Negotiate with liable insurance companies to obtain maximum compensation for your damages
- Take your case to trial if needed
- Work in your best interests
While you don’t have to contact an attorney immediately, doing so can give you peace of mind. You can focus on recovering from your injuries and let us take care of the legalities. A further benefit is that we will advise you about costly mistakes you shouldn’t make following your accident.
How Can You Damage Your Case?
Just as you can do things to strengthen your claim, you can also do things that can damage it.
Don’t Admit Fault
An investigation determines who is responsible for causing an accident, and your assigned degree of fault determines how much compensation you can receive. The higher your assigned percentage, the less compensation. Even saying that you’re sorry can be construed as admitting fault. Let investigators and your attorney handle fault.
Don’t Discontinue Recommended Medical Treatments
The most important reason for continuing medical treatments is that you need to recover from your injuries. There’s a legal component to this as well.
Your injuries are the basis for a personal injury claim after a car crash. If you discontinue treatments recommended by your doctor, opposing insurance companies can use that against you. They can state that your injuries aren’t as severe as you say.
Don’t Disturb Evidence
It’s illegal to falsify, destroy, or hide evidence. If you have concerns, tell your car accident attorney immediately. We will handle them for you.
Don’t Sign Anything
Many people sign legal documents without realizing what they mean. Some people don’t even read them; they sign when asked. Let your accident lawyer look over any documents pertaining to your accident or insurance claim before you sign on the dotted line.
Don’t Speak to Insurance Companies Alone
Insurance companies aren’t your friends. They don’t want to pay damages even if you deserve them. Many representatives use underhanded tactics trying to get you to make an innocent mistake they can use against you.
Avoid Social Media
Another way that insurance companies will try to avoid paying you is to find evidence that you’re falsifying your injuries or their severity. Anything you post on social media is fair game, so it’s best to avoid posting anything during an ongoing claim.
Are Car Accident Claims Difficult To Handle Alone?
All car crashes have different circumstances. Some insurance claims are relatively straightforward, but others can be highly complex and challenging if you don’t handle them correctly. Potential complications include:
- Utah’s personal injury protection insurance requirement: Utah residents must obtain 25/65/15 in liability coverage and purchase $3,000 of PIP coverage. This no-fault coverage pays certain expenses regardless of who is at fault, but these claims are confusing.
- Underinsured and uninsured motorists: if those responsible for causing your accident don’t have sufficient insurance to compensate you for your damages, you’ll likely need an attorney’s assistance.
- Modified comparative negligence: you can’t recover damages if you are 50% or more at fault.
- Statutes of limitations: the deadlines for filing claims and potential civil lawsuits vary, but you must meet them or risk losing your right to seek compensation.
- Government involvement: any claim against a government agency requires you to follow strict procedures and guidelines.
- Commercial vehicles: there are multiple potentially liable parties when a commercial vehicle causes an accident. Your lawyer will use their resources to investigate liability and assign fault correctly.
You can choose to handle your car accident claim alone, but can you successfully navigate these challenges? Siegfried & Jensen can.
Why Should You Choose Siegfried & Jensen?
The attorneys at Siegfried & Jensen have assisted injured accident victims in Utah and other surrounding states since 1990. We focus on personal injury law, so we know how to get positive results for you. We have recovered over $1.2 billion for our clients, and we have a 97% case success rate. We promise you’ll be glad you contacted us.
Siegfried & Jensen will review your case for free, with no obligation. If you choose to hire us, you won’t pay us until we win compensation for you. Someone can speak with you 24/7, so there’s no need to wait. Call us at (801) 845-9000 or request your case review online.