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What lawyers want you to know about car crashes and how to handle them

As much as no one wants to get involved in a car accident, millions of them happen every year, leading to damages to property and loss of life.  What happens when you suffer a car accident? Many people panic and get confused, not knowing what to do.

The law gives you the right to compensation if you get injured resulting from an accident caused by someone else. If you are involved in a car crash, you need to take proper steps to protect your rights and increase your chances of receiving appropriate compensation. Unfortunately, many people do not follow these steps, weakening their case. There are specific actions to take in the event of a crash, and particular data you should collect (if possible). Let’s check on the list below.

Nose-to-tail crash on a city street

Stop at the accident scene

While sometimes it becomes a complicated situation when you are involved in an accident, you must stop until you have ascertained there are no injuries and you have exchanged details with other parties. It may be necessary to call emergency services if there are injuries, if there is property damage or if there is debris blocking the road. It’s important that you collect evidence at this point; police will collect their own evidence.

In many countries, failing to stop is a crime, punishable by law. As stated by this car accident lawyer, you might not gather the right evidence to support your case, and the other party, even if guilty, might term you as a hit-and-run driver. Never drive off from an accident scene, no matter how minor it is.

Protect the scene

You will not want to suffer from more injuries or see other traffic involved in the same accident. This situation means that you should protect the accident scene by warning oncoming motorists and preventing further accidents. 

There are many ways you can use to protect an accident scene, the simplest of which is switching on your hazard lights. If you have them lighting flares and wearing hi-vis clothing is an option.  If it’s dark and your lights fail to work, get a torch to warn other motorists. 

Check for injuries and call emergency services

Once you have protected the scene as quickly as you can, the next step involves checking the accident scene for any injuries. This might include people trapped in vehicles, or people who have managed to get out of their vehicles but are wandering around in a state of shock. Move people out of danger if possible and call emergency services. Unfortunately, in some countries, it is better that you leave any medical care to emergency services rather than trying to render assistance due to the extremely litigious nature of those countries and the likelihood you could be sued if you inadvertently cause death. If injuries are minor, however, you may be able to assist with a first aid kit.

Lastly, check the extent of the damage. Extensive damage to the vehicle or property might need police intervention. You should call your insurance company for advice, particularly if your vehicle needs to be towed to a repairer. 

Make an accurate record of the accident, including documenting the scene

While you might be terrified and shaky after the accident, it is essential to compose yourself and give an accurate report to the police; witness evidence is unreliable and memories fade rapidly, so take statements from witnesses as soon as possible and write things down or record them into your smartphone.

Documenting an accident scene means taking all the details concerning the accident scene to help you file for your compensation case.  Using your smartphone, you can take images of the vehicles, damage and injuries (bearing in mind this should be of your injuries, and you must take care not to infringe another person’s right to privacy). Record any skid marks on the road, and any indication of vehicle direction during the crash (for example, scuff marks on a barrier). Ensure to record all the details and keep them safe for future use.

When recording the accident scene, you have to be careful not to interfere with the police while conducting their job. However, it is vital to take all these details before leaving the accident scene. If possible, get a copy of the police report, too. 

Tell any attending police officer what happened in the lead-up to the accident. If you are not sure of some of the facts, it is better to say that to the officer than give contradicting information.  

Also, while giving your statements, you should make sure the other driver provides accurate information concerning the accident. Sometimes, they might lie to have the case go their way. However, with good evidence, you will be good to prove your points.

Exchange information with the other driver(s)

An investigating officer will try to gather all the information in an accident scene, including the contact details of all the individuals involved in the accident.  However, it is also essential to get information about the other driver, including the driver’s name, licence number, registration plate number, witness details and insurance details.

While this might not be easy to come by, you may need to have these details to help you with the compensation case. Also, it will be essential to get the contact details of the accident witnesses, who might help clarify your claim for compensation. 

Seek medical attention

Obviously, if you are incapacitated, you may not be able to record information and you will have to rely on the police report. You will be taken to hospital.

Even if you think you are not injured, though, it can be prudent to visit a doctor for a checkup as sometimes injuries from an accident might not show immediately.

Also, checking at  the hospital has other benefits, including getting a doctor’s report. A doctor’s report is an essential document you should have if you have severe injuries, to help you file for compensation. Besides this, having urgent medical care helps in getting treatment for injuries which could be life-threatening. 

Report the accident

While it’s ideal to contact your insurance company at the accident scene for advice, you may not be able to get through or it might not be feasible. It is essential to notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Many insurance policies require this, and failing to do so might significantly affect your compensation outcome. They will follow up with the other drivers’ insurance companies. Ensure you follow the procedures as stipulated in your policy. 

Lastly, it would help not forget to have a reliable accident lawyer who will help you handle your compensation case. The lawyer will help you gather more accident evidence, get you a police and doctor’s report, and finalise the compensation claim filing.  They have all the experience, skills, and education to make your compensation case a much simpler proposition. 

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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