A car crash can be quite traumatic, and you will be visibly shaken if you happen to be caught in one. It is not possible to be fully prepared for every eventuality, but if you drive, you should also know about the do’s and don’ts of dealing with a crash.
According to insurance estimates, chances are high that you will file a claim for an accident every 17.9 years. There are millions of car accidents happening every year, but a vast majority of them are not deadly. Most are minor skirmishes like parking lot scrapes or incidents of rear-ending.
Whatever may be the nature of the crash you are in, there are a few things that you must not do. A brash and foolish reaction can not only be illegal, but can also jeopardize your insurance claim.
So here are a few things that you should avoid doing if you are involved in a car accident.
1. Speed Away from the Scene of Wreck
Many of us would be tempted to leave the scene of the accident if we feel that no one is hurt and there is not much damage to vehicles involved. But this is not a good idea.
For one, unless and until you check on the occupants of the other car, you can never be sure that there are no serious injuries sustained. You should also inspect the damage caused to your car, and exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. It is also essential that you call law enforcement to prepare an accident report about the damages and injuries sustained, and may even mention who was primarily responsible for causing the crash.
Often, injuries are not evident until several hours or days later. Even traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) go undetected for several days before being diagnosed. This is because brain injuries need not necessarily result from external bleeding or wounds. When the brain is violently shaken inside the skull like during whiplash injuries, brain tissues get damaged. You may experience a headache, nausea, or dizziness in the following days, making it increasingly evident that a TBI is sustained.
You can rightfully claim for damages if you have sustained serious injuries. But your claim will be valid only if you have strong supporting evidence; if you choose to flee the scene, there will not be any.
2. Forego Calling 911
Law enforcement in some areas does not respond to car accidents where no one is injured. But do not let the opportunity to get a detailed accident report slip away.
Cops will require detailed information, and all those who are involved in the crash will be held up for some time. But do not see this as a hassle and try to avoid calling 911.
A simple exchange of contact and insurance information does not guarantee you any legal safety. Sometimes, the other driver may give you wrong contact and insurance information, making it difficult for you to follow up with a claim. Also, remember that many drivers do not have valid car insurance. In such cases, you will definitely have to opt for legal recourse. Sunrise Personal Injury Lawyer David Benenfeld says that it is possible to be compensated for damages and treatment even if the other driver does not have insurance and you are underinsured. This can be done by filing for Equitable Distribution.
But all insurance claims require you to have supporting documentation and evidence proving that your injuries are sustained as a direct result of the accident.
3. Skip Your Own Evidence Gathering
This is an important step that you cannot afford to miss after being involved in a car crash. Proper documentation will help you bolster your insurance claim, should you ever make one.
Write down pertinent details about the accident like make, color, license plate number, and model of the other car or cars involved in the crash. Make a note of the driver’s name, address, contact information, as well as details regarding insurance provider and policy number. This is very important information that will help make your life easier.
Witnesses can add credibility to your claim and validate your statements. If there are witnesses present at the accident site, ensure you record their version of events and request for contact information as well.
4. Failing to Take Care of Yourself
Many health problems surface days or weeks after the accident. Neck and back pain, swelling in joints, and reduced mobility are common physical problems experienced by people involved in accidents. Effects of concussion are more subtle, but are far more serious, and need to be identified and treated as soon as you spot them. Do not ignore any problem you may be experiencing and consult a physician immediately.
An auto accident, however minor, will have an effect on you. Accident-related trauma affects different people differently. If you escaped unhurt and if no one sustained major injuries, then your mental recovery will be easy.
If there are fatalities involved or if any of the victims suffered serious and debilitating injuries, then it may take you longer to recover from the shock. Take care of your emotional and mental well-being and try not to be involved in stressful situations for a while.
Motor accidents are life-altering incidents. But if you have been lucky enough to escape unharmed, it is best to be wiser for the experience and try to take it in stride. Soon after the accident, remember to stay calm and make a note of every detail regarding the crash. With some smart moves, you will be able to deal with the aftermath of the crash better.