Being side-swiped, rear-ended, or hit while driving can be a very jarring and scary experience. It can cause the heart to beat fast, some may feel confused, many individuals don't always remember what happened right away. Knowing what to expect and the next steps to take after a car accident is important whether one has already happened or not.
There are millions of people on the road every day, according to DriverKnowledge, a site determined to share the importance of safe driving, ninety people every day die in a car accident. In addition, one in three people text while driving, also known as distracted driving. At least nine people a day die due to distracted drivers, while one in five car accidents are due to distracted drivers.
Staying safe and informed is important when driving, but no matter how safe a driver is, accidents still happen. Knowing what to do after an accident can help ensure the case is properly handled, fair compensation is awarded, and the victim can comfortably move on with their life. Below are some of the most common questions and answers drivers have when involved in a car accident.
What is the first thing I should do after an accident?
The period of time immediately after a car accident is the most crucial time for a client's case. Unfortunately, this is also the time when most people are confused, hurt, or too shaken to do anything. The first step is to check for any injuries and seek medical attention if necessary. Then, get pictures of the cars involved. Take photos from multiple angles if possible.
It can help to write down what happened, along with the license plate number and insurance information. This can help jog one's memory and point to important pieces of evidence. Once an ambulance arrives, if necessary, be sure to receive the proper care or head to the hospital. Do not forget to let a car accident attorney know what happened right away.
- Check for any injuries, bleeding, or inability to move a part of the body
- Call or ask for help
- Take pictures, if able
- Take an ambulance to the hospital for evaluation
- Call a car accident attorney
Should I call the police?
If there are any injuries or damage to public property, then yes. Filing a police report is not only necessary but will be helpful to the case. An officer is able to write down their observations of the scene of the car accident. The police officer can also be called to trial to testify about the car accident, the scene and any other observations.
Should I talk to the other driver?
It is crucial to check the state of one's body before anything else. It is best to call a police officer so they can make a report and collect insurance information and the identity of the other driver. If the officer is able to interact with the other driver, this protects the individual from saying anything that could hurt their case later down the line.
Often, individuals want to say "I'm sorry" when there is a car accident, even if it was not their fault. In a lot of car accident cases, expressing empathy can result in the other driver, or the other driver's attorneys, blaming the victim for the car accident. Thus, it is better to interact with the other driver as little as possible.
What if there are witnesses?
Again, if the individual is physically OK to exit the car, getting names and phone numbers of witnesses can be very helpful. People that witness accidents are eager to assist and can be helpful if the case goes to trial. If a police officer is there taking a report, then the officer will most likely seek out witnesses for the report, as well. Eye-witnesses are beneficial for the settlement stage or testifying at trial.
Should I talk to the insurance company?
Immediately after a car accident, the other driver's insurance company will want to speak with the involved parties on the phone. They typically call within just a few days of the accident. The parties are under no obligation to talk to them. We may typically advise clients not to talk to them.
The other driver's insurance company typically wants a "recorded statement" as to how the accident occurred. That recorded statement will be evaluated and scrutinized by the insurance company attorneys, who will find ways to prevent the insurance company from having to pay damages. It is very common for victims to misremember or misstate how an accident happened.
Victims do not know they have been in a car accident until it happens, so noticing what happened right before tends to slip many people's minds. Direct the insurance company to the car accident attorney's phone number if they call. We can handle conversations with the insurance company since that is what we are trained and experienced in.
Will I have to go to trial?
In most cases, no. However, the case may end up in a trial. So, it is important to always prepare for the possibility. Car accident attorneys are experts in their field and will generally settle a case so the client does not have to go through the emotional toll and expense of a trial.
How much is my case worth?
Do not hire any car accident attorney who gives an amount the case is worth during the first or second consultation. This is a sure sign of inexperience. There are two kinds of damages one can receive in car accident cases, one is economic damages, and the other is non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that are easily calculated, such as medical bills, lost wages, and physical therapy.
Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of earning for a child that passed. Calculating these amounts in the early stages of the case before the victim's injuries are fully evaluated, recovery time, the percentage of disability, etc., is premature. The more information received concerning the victim's medical condition, the easier it is for the car accident attorney to estimate damages.
If you have been in a car accident, it is important to get medical attention and hire a car accident attorney immediately. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner you can begin to recover while your car accident attorney handles your case. Having an advocate on your side is invaluable and should be one of the first steps you do after a car accident.
For more information or to schedule a consultation with us, call our New Haven office at (203) 624-6115. Call Knight & Cerritelli today.
This blog is for entertainment purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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