What should I do if I'm in a car wreck?
Whether you're facing a legal issue or just seeking information, Justipedia aims to be your most trusted resource for legal information on the Web. With the help of legal professionals across the country, we put the law in plain language to help answer your top legal questions.
Justipedia was founded by Internet veterans Cory Janssen and Mitchell Allen. Janssen founded Investopedia.com and grew it one of the largest investing sites on the Web. Allen is an author, speaker and the founder of LeadRival, the leading provider of pay-per-action advertising in consumer legal services. Full Bio
What should I do if I'm in a car wreck?
Auto accidents are never a positive experience for those who are involved, especially when the crash results in serious injuries. The protocol on how to respond after an accident depends on the conditions directly following the crash. If no one is injured, then the process is relatively simple. But when someone is injured, and especially if they are trapped or severely injured, it is vital to contact the first responders immediately. There are also some steps a crash witness can take to help the accident victims.
In a typical collision, where no one is seriously injured and the vehicles can still be driven, merely exchanging names and insurance companies is an acceptable first step. However, it is still a good idea to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and make sure that there no resulting underlying medical issues.
Back injuries and neck injuries can manifest after the fact, even when an accident victim does not immediately recognize the injury. Chronic pain or physical inability is not always the only indicator. Soreness can be an indication of injury as well. Always take pictures of any damage resulting from the accident, including skid marks on the highway and pictures of the vehicles. Pictures of injured victims can also be helpful in many situations.
The first rule of a serious accident where passengers and drivers are badly injured, or trapped in a vehicle, is to call 911 immediately and report the accident. Be sure that you can identify your location and do not leave the scene. In addition, someone should flag traffic if possible when the accident comes to a rest in the highway. It is very common for unsuspecting motorists to collide with an accident when no one is warning oncoming traffic. Witnesses to an accident should also do this when necessary, and make the call to the first responders if needed. If a passenger in a vehicle is unconscious, never attempt to move them unless the vehicle is in danger of exploding. Pictures of an accident can be excellent documentation in many situations.
Once the emergency vehicles and the police arrive, always comply with the investigators and medical treatment professionals, including allowing the medical team to inspect any personal injuries. Often, injured victims who are still mobile will not realize the extent to which they are hurt. It is important to try to remain as calm as possible, although that is a difficult task for anyone who is party to a vehicle accident, regardless of severity of injury. Always seek medical treatment as soon as possible, even when an injury is not apparent. Let the doctors make an evaluation, as this will be vital information if an insurance claim is in order.
Contacting the Insurance Company
Sometimes handling a claim alone is not a good idea when the insurance company thinks they can play nice and keep a claim payout to a minimum. It is always a good idea to consult with a legal professional who is experienced with personal injury and automobile accident claims.
Property damage can be claimed as well as recovery for personal injuries in many auto accident cases. If the insurance company is posturing like they will reject responsibility for a claim, then it is time to immediately call an attorney who knows how to negotiate with a bad faith insurance company.
Always remember that there is a potential for multiple negligent parties in an auto accident, including injury claims against car manufacturers for defective automobile equipment. Never assume that there is only one negligent party available for financial recovery. Having a solid accident attorney means that your claim can be investigated for maximum value and be filed properly by legal professionals who are aggressively working on your behalf to recover as much financial damages as possible.