As the saying goes, accidents happen. When it comes to motor vehicle accidents, however, many of them are avoidable. Sometimes, crashes are caused by distracted drivers who are texting, reading, taking on the phone or even applying makeup while driving.
Sometimes, the other driver was chemically impaired by drugs or alcohol. Other times, it was simply a failure to carefully observe the surroundings or inclement weather. Whatever the cause, there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself after a serious accident.
Once you’ve determined if you or others in the car suffer injuries, you should immediately assess your surroundings for safety. Are you in a lane of traffic, where secondary collisions are a real risk? If so, you may want to exit your vehicle.
Does anyone need triage, or can you wait for emergency responders for medical care? If everyone can exit the vehicle, you may want to move them out of the flow of traffic. This should wait until you’ve videoed or photographed the scene with your phone or after law enforcement arrives. You should document what happened immediately before and during the crash.
When speaking with the other driver and law enforcement, never apologize. Doing so is considered an admission of fault, even if the other person clearly caused the accident. When law enforcement has taken your statement, you should seek medical treatment for yourself and your passengers. Be sure to document everything as it happens and retain all of your medical bills for evidence in case your accident results in a civil lawsuit. You should contact your insurance company and file a claim.
If the other driver was at fault, you might be offered an insurance settlement. You should absolutely speak with a car crash lawyer before accepting or signing anything. Your attorney can tell you if a settlement offer is reasonable, based on the injuries you’ve sustained. Many times, first offers are lower than they should be, in the hopes that people will quickly sign off before realizing the amount won’t cover the medical costs and property damage caused by the accident. Your lawyer can protect you from making a mistake that could cost you thousands of dollars.
Additionally, your personal injury attorney can review the details of your accident and determine if a civil lawsuit makes sense. In cases of severe injuries, insurance may not cover all of your losses. There are limits to vehicular insurance coverage. A civil lawsuit could help you recover the expenses and losses that exceed the maximum benefits from your motor vehicle policy.