Protect Yourself, Legally and Physically, From Greater Harm
Being in an auto accident can be terrifying. It can put you into a state of shock that makes you forget exactly what you’re supposed to do in an emergency. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were more than 6 million motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2015. Whether you have been injured, or damaged your vehicle or someone else’s, you need to know how to legally protect yourself in an accident.
1. Pull Over
Even though you may want emergency responders to be able to see what happened at the scene of the accident, you’re safer if you pull off the road. Leaving your car on the street can put you at risk of getting hit by moving traffic. Pull your car onto the shoulder, to the side of the road or into a parking lot.
Stay out of harm’s way, and evaluate whether everyone in the car is ok. It’s safer to stay in the car with your seatbelt on than to stand outside the vehicle until emergency personnel arrives.
If anyone stops to make sure that you’re ok while you’re waiting, ask if they’re willing to stick around to give a statement to the police. Because the drivers involved in an accident will often have competing descriptions of the situation, insurance adjusters may look for information from credible witnesses, and can potentially help protect you legally from any claims.
2. Call 911
Even if you feel like the damage isn’t serious, call 911. Police will create an accident report and document your injuries. You may need this official information to protect yourself later. If you are unable to call 911, ask someone else to do it. Try to flag down another car, or ask anyone who stops to help.
3. Seek Medical Attention
Many drivers or passengers who have been involved in an auto accident don’t feel the physical effects of their trauma right away. The adrenaline that surges through your body during a crash may prevent you from feeling pain. However, if you don’t get a medical examination right away and find out later that you were, in fact, injured, you may not be able to get the compensation that you deserve. Getting immediate medical attention can protect future injury claims and uncover any hidden problems.
4. Take Photos
You should make sure that you take photos. If you can’t, ask a family member to help you. When recording the evidence, make sure that you snap pictures of the following:
• Any property damage to your car, other vehicles or surrounding property
• Injuries that you or your passengers have suffered
• Traffic signs near the scene of the accident
• Witnesses, the other driver and the police officer
• Information about other drivers involved in the accident, including the make and model of their vehicle, insurance documents, license plate and driver’s license
• Surrounding businesses in case you need to contact them later for surveillance videos
5. Call A Lawyer
Even if you think that the details about the accident are straightforward and you won’t need a lawyer’s help, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney following an accident. You may also receive better compensation from the insurance company if you work with a lawyer.
An auto accident can put you out of work, cause mental and physical suffering and even affect your family members. A car accident lawyer can help you get the settlement that you deserve. At McLane & McLane, we have years of experience handling car accident claims. Contact us if you have been involved in an auto accident. We also recommend that you print out this article and keep it in your vehicle as a reference.