Important Steps To Take When You’re Involved In An Auto Accident
Auto Accident Attorney, Phoenix, Az | Escamilla Law Group, PLLC.
Auto accidents are serious. They can cause severe injuries, permanent damage, and even death. At the Escamilla Law Group, PLLC we take pride in helping accident victims. We will help you get the compensation you deserve, whether it’s a small claim or a multi-million dollar one. We fight for your rights and never allow our clients to get rolled over by big insurance companies, or third parties who try to shirk their responsibilities to you—the victim.
When you’re involved in an accident it’s a traumatizing experience. It’s best to be prepared in advance for the day an accident occurs. And while we hope that you defy the odds and never have an auto accident during your entire life, the unfortunate truth is that most of us do have accidents, so be prepared. In the interest of keeping everyone informed, we’ve compiled a list of important steps to take when you find yourself in an accident situation. Here are some of our top tips.
STOP RIGHT AWAY
While it should be obvious, it bears repeating that you must stop when you’re involved in an accident. Everyone stops when they’re in a big one, of course, but you might be surprised at how many people drive away from small ones, minor accidents that they don’t feel are important enough to deal with. While we all lead busy lives and most of us are constantly running from one event to the next, there is no excuse for leaving the scene of an accident. Leaving the scene of an accident you are involved in is not only irresponsible, but it could land you in jail. You simply must stop if you are involved in an accident, even a minor one.
SEEK MEDICAL CARE
Regardless of whether you feel fine after your accident, you should still seek medical care. Only a doctor can make that assessment. A doctor may need to run tests to find out if you have internal body injuries, such as spinal injuries or brain injuries. Some injuries can be subtle but could advance later down the road. Proper testing and X-rays are sometimes needed, so seek medical care after any vehicle accident and protect your health. And always keep a record of medical visits and all receipts, etc.; these will be needed for your claim.
THINK SAFETY & PROTECT OTHERS
A vehicle accident can create quite a mess on the road with smashed debris scattered here and there—vehicles could be in the street or partially blocking the street, flammable liquids may have escaped from the vehicle, etc., making driving conditions dangerous for other motorists. If you are able, turn your flashers on to alert other motorists that your vehicle is stopped. And if you are not severely injured, you could set up road flares if you have them, to create a powerful visual warning, alerting drivers of the dangerous situation so they can use caution when passing the accident site.
When standing roadside waiting for help, be sure to stand as far away from oncoming traffic as possible and never stand between your vehicle and passing vehicles. Stand back and stay alert. The side of the road or busy street is a dangerous place to linger, so keep your eyes peeled. This is not a good time to check your social media or watch a YouTube video; you simply must keep your eyes open and you must stay alert. And remember to contact an auto accident attorney in Phoenix, AZ as soon as you can.
CONTACT THE POLICE
Many people think that calling the police is only necessary if the vehicle accident is serious. While in the state of Arizona a minor accident (that produces no injuries or serious damage) does not legally require a police report, it is absolutely a good idea to get one. Therefore, you should call the police regardless of the severity of the accident. A police report can officially document the accident and this documentation could be your first, and sometimes best, piece of evidence to support your claim when filing with an insurance company.
And remember, the police will be better able to assess the accident, and who was at fault, if the vehicles remain exactly as they were at impact, so do not move your vehicles unless absolutely necessary for safety. Contact an auto accident attorney in Phoenix, AZ to get more information about how to handle auto accidents.
BE CAREFUL HOW YOU ANSWER QUESTIONS FROM THE POLICE
When the police arrive they will follow protocol, and their first priority is always to assess whether anyone is injured and in need of medical care. If you are not showing signs of obvious injury, then the police officer will ask you if you are injured. It is a good idea to NEVER answer this question with a ‘no’ answer. Many times an injury can go unnoticed for a while. You may not realize you have a back injury until later that night when you bend over to put food in your dog’s bowl or pick up the TV remote you dropped on the floor. The point is, you may not know that you are injured right then and there at the scene, so do not tell the police you are fine when you may not be.
This is critically important because while the police report will often work in your favor if you are a plaintiff, it can also work against you if it documents that you stated you had no injuries and later on you find you do and decide to file an injury claim. Insurance companies would much prefer to receive money than pay it out, so you can be sure that if you stated you had no injuries, they will try to fight your injury claim. Assume you’re injured until a doctor has cleared you of all injuries, and let your auto accident attorney in Phoenix, AZ advise you on how to handle dealing with all the details.
WRITE A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE ACCIDENT
When the police arrive they will ask you what happened. Oftentimes when you’re in an auto accident you will experience shock or anxiety and memories fade quickly under these conditions, so if you are able, make a written account of what happened as soon as you can. Obviously, first make sure you are not severely injured and that other accident victims are okay as well, but as soon as you can take a moment to write down all the information, do so. This way you’ll have a written record to provide to your auto accident attorney in Phoenix, AZ, and will also be able to easily recall information when the police arrive. You should also listen to the other party’s account of what happened when they are making their statement to the police. If they lie or mislead or give an inaccurate assessment in any way, you need to, calmly, let the police know.
TAKE PHOTOS, LOTS OF PHOTOS
Photos are evidence, and in a court of law, arbitration, or settlement of any kind, evidence is valuable. You’ll want to take as many photos as you can and your auto accident attorney in Phoenix, AZ will help you decide which one’s are the best for supporting your case and claim. Take photos of the scene, including both vehicles (or other obstacles) and be sure to photograph the road or street from each direction, to clearly show the path the vehicles were on before impact. Take photos of any signage or Division of Transportation equipment, etc. that could have caused confusion or partially blocked the road. If it was raining or snowing, take photos of the road conditions to show that. If visibility was low due to fog or another reason, document that as well with your photography.
Essentially, take photos of anything and everything that you think could even remotely help your attorney, insurance company, judge or jury understand exactly what happened. If you’re not at fault, complete photographic documentation of everything will help to prove that. For more information contact your auto accident attorney in Phoenix, AZ.
REPORT IT TO YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
Contact your insurance company as soon as you can and report it. Ask about your medical benefits and get the process started. But it is important to remember: NEVER accept any settlement offer until you have consulted with your auto accident attorney in Phoenix, AZ and he or she has advised you. Many times an insurance company will try to settle quickly when they know they are on the hook for coverage, and they may try to get you to accept an offer quickly in hopes that you take the bait. Never do this. You will want to consult with your attorney and assess all the damages, considering your current injuries and property damage, but also your ongoing care and future health issues. An auto accident can cause damages that equate to extraordinary expenses over time, so you need to make sure that when you do settle that it’s for a fair amount that takes all your damages into consideration, not just a quick buck to settle your ER visit expenses.
EXCHANGE IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Always make it a priority to exchange important insurance and contact information with all parties involved in the accident. This includes not only drivers but passengers as well. Ask to see everyone’s insurance cards. And be sure to talk to any witnesses before they leave the scene. Get their contact information as well because they could be valuable to your case and claim.
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