According to the Association for Road Safety International (ARSI), in the U.S alone, over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year. An additional 2.35 million become either injured or disabled.
The frequent occurrence of road accidents is fast becoming a major public health concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) listed road traffic accidents as the 9th leading cause of death, accounting for 2.2% of all deaths globally.
Considering this, it is important that you understand exactly how to react in the event of a car accident. What do you do? Who do you call? This article answers all these questions and more.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) confirms what we all know already: driver error is the major cause of road accidents. In fact, it accounts for 90% of all road accidents. Unsafe driving or failure to detect road hazards is one of the mishaps associated with drivers.
Other driver ‘errors’ include being inattentive and losing concentration while driving. Over-speeding, driving under the influence of substances, failure to remain in the right lane and refusal to yield have also been identified as common causes.
However, other factors may also become responsible for road accidents. Roads, bad weather, or vehicle error are some of these.
Road accidents are not pleasant experiences. Knowing what to do and not making the matter worse is very important. After a road accident, there are several steps you should immediately take to provide a solid foundation for your claim. Here are some of the things you should do:
Your safety and that of the other persons involved in the road accident is what comes first. Get yourself and others involved in the accident away from danger.
If you’re able to remove your vehicle from the road so it does not block traffic. Setting up cones and flares to warn oncoming vehicles of the accident will also help prevent further crashes.
In many states, it is against the law for you to drive off or leave the scene of the accident. Unless you’re actually leaving for immediate medical treatment or any other emergency, don’t leave the scene of the road traffic accident untill the police get there.
Doing this could spell trouble for you. Depending on the circumstances, you can get charged with a hit-and-run misdemeanor or felony.
If the accident has caused serious injuries, call 911 to try and get immediate help. If not, you can call the emergency number of the local police.
Under many state laws, you’re obligated to report the car accident immediately. In New York for instance, you must give notice to the local police or the local Sheriff immediately a road accident occurs.
Calling the police will also help you in getting an accident report. The police report will document the accident. It will further help you to get compensation for the injury or damage you suffered.
The accident and the injury you sustained may not be as ‘little’ as you think it is. You should take your health seriously. While you may not feel anything or even show signs of ill-health, you should not assume everything is fine.
Some injuries, like internal bleeding or damage, may not be easily detectable in the immediate aftermath of the accident. This is why you visit a doctor no more than 48 hours after the accident.
Don’t forget to keep documentation of your injuries and medical reports. The documents will help your claim for injuries arising due to the traffic accident.
Before the police or first responders arrive at the scene, you can use the time to gather relevant information. Take pictures – and even videos – of the accident, location, vehicles and other facts about the accident, including skid marks.
You may be needing this to narrate the ‘chain of events’ and in determining whether the road accident was another person’s fault or not.
This is also the perfect moment to gather information about vehicles or persons involved in the incident. The relevant things you may need information about include:
You must answer the questions asked by the police or investigators to the best of your knowledge. Be mindful that anything you say at the scene of the accident can be used against you later.
Don’t say things like “I should have been more careful”. That’s not a fact, it’s your own opinion and it is not required at this stage. Statements like this can go on to hurt your claim, and may give the insurance company something to hold on to in devaluing or rejecting your claim.
What if you’re actually at fault? Each case is unique on its own. The doctrine of ‘comparative negligence’ is one that is used in many states. Here, the Court will allow for compensation even if it can be realized that you have also contributed to the fault. This is possible if substantial negligence on the part of the other person or persons involved can be established.
Gathering evidence in many road accidents may not be immediately possible. This is especially so for accidents where you would require immediate medical care. Your car accident attorney will however conduct all necessary investigations once you brief them about the accident.
With a qualified car accident lawyer, you will have better chance of recovering fair compensation for your injury.
If you or a loved one is involved in a road accident or you have questions about the legal remedies available to you, contact us at Oshan and Associates. You can call us on 206-355-3880 or fill out our online contact form as soon as possible to get the best legal representation.
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