Every year, there are approximately two million car accidents in the United States that cause injuries (but no deaths). Another four million car crashes damage the vehicles without reported injury to people. These crashes cost Americans something like $75 billion each year. Most of us can expect to be in at least one car accident at some point – hopefully, without injury to ourselves or others.
Obviously, the effects of car collisions can be severe, including property damage, injury, or even death. It is not surprising that most car accident victims tend to be disoriented after a crash. In fact, several studies have found that car accidents can cause PTSD even for drivers or passengers that aren’t physically injured in the crash. Apart from the health and safety problems that arise from car crashes, making good decisions at the roadside can be vital to getting appropriate medical care – and it can also make or break your claim.
How you react after an accident is crucial to your health and eligibility for damages. In this article, we outline a checklist of what to do after a car accident. You can even print this checklist out and put it in your glove compartment with your other important documents (and you might do that for those friends and family members whose driving ability you worry about).
If you have been injured due to a negligent driver, contact Larson & Gallivan Law to speak to an experienced Rutland, VT Car Accident Attorney.
Ensure You Are Safe
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, you will likely feel confused. Your heart rate will increase and you will be in “fight-or-flight mode.” Do this:
- Are you badly hurt? Is there bleeding or a sharp pain? Are any passengers hurt?
- Call 9-1-1.
- Can you move the car safely out of traffic to the side of the road? If you can, do that.
- Put on your hazard lights.
- Put the car in “park”.
- Is there smoke coming from the car?
- Can you smell gas? If so, and you’re able to get out of the car, do so.
- Get your passengers out of the car.
- Move away from the car and get on the outside of any guardrails.
- Call 9-1-1 if you haven’t already.
- Take a deep breath, calm down as best as you can, and study your surroundings. Wait for help.
Check Yourself for Injuries
Once you are away from the vehicle, assess yourself for injuries again. Remember that you might not feel any pain or symptoms immediately due to shock and the adrenaline. It is amazing how people can be badly injured and not feel it until later – sometimes days later! If you have any doubts, take the ambulance when help gets there. Get checked out.
Report the Accident
In most accidents, there will be a police presence at the scene. This could be the Rutland Police Department, the Vermont State Police, the County Sheriff – but unless both cars can drive away and do, there will be a police report. You are still required to file a police report of your own if there is property damage of $3,000 total (including both cars) or any injury. This means you will need to file a report in nearly every car accident in the state of Vermont – even a bumper replacement costs more than $3,000 these days! This report is required to be completed within 72 hours. You will want to take this seriously and be careful to be accurate in this report. Casual mistakes can cost you badly in your injury or property damage claim. You may want to speak with an injury lawyer before you fill this out.
Collect Relevant Information
As you wait for the police, gather essential information from the other driver. This includes details that could help in your claim, such as:
- The other driver’s name and contact information
- The other driver’s insurance details and license plate number
- Contact information of witnesses – did anyone see the crash?
- Did anyone talk to either of you? Getting a name and telephone number is really important!
- Take pictures and videos of the crash, road conditions, property damage, and injuries.
- Take some notes of the accident in as much detail as possible – what happened moment by moment. Did your body part (e.g. your knee) hit a car part (e.g. the door handle)? These details are super helpful and are easy to forget even days later.
- But don’t talk about the accident with the other driver! Make sure to avoid discussing the accident. You are probably not in the best state of mind, and what you say could be misconstrued as an admission of fault and could affect your eligibility for damages.
Inform Your Insurer
Report the accident to your insurance provider even if you are not at fault. Be careful to offer the only necessary information. If possible, avoid going into details about the accident or who you think is at fault.
Get the Help of a Rutland, VT Car Accident Attorney
A car accident injury will often require medical treatment. Apart from the related medical costs, it could also cause you to miss work as you recover. An attorney can help you seek damages to cover your economic and non-economic losses, including pain and suffering.
To protect your eligibility for compensation, contact a Rutland, VT Car Accident Attorney immediately after your accident. Doing so will allow us to collect material evidence and information about your case before it is lost.
Contact us today at (802) 526-8040 to schedule a free initial consultation.