Each year, 2.35 million people incur injuries or disabilities from automotive collisions in the United States. Many of these injuries are serious and require medical treatment, and a personal injury case may be necessary to recover damages.
The decisions that an accident victim makes immediately after an auto accident can have a significant impact on the outcome of a personal injury case. Here are a few things that accident victims should do immediately after an auto accident.
Call Law Enforcement
As soon as an accident occurs, the accident victim should call the police. Law enforcement will assess the accident and question each of the involved parties. In addition, the responding officer creates a report of the accident, which may include an assignment of fault.
The report from the officer is generally unbiased and can help prove that the responsible party's negligence caused the incident. Without the official report, the decisions concerning an accident case may be based primarily on the recollections of the victim and the other driver. The insurers of the negligent party are likely to favor their client.
Many accident victims have access to a cellphone or camera at the time of the collision. If the victim is not physically immobilized due to an injury, they can take photos to support the damage assessment associated with a personal injury case. Here are a few things that should be photographed:
· Injuries that are visible
· Damage to the vehicles involved
· Overall scene of the accident
The victim can also take photos of the other driver's insurance card and contact information. However, that information should be recorded in the accident report.
Tell the Facts
The responding officer will likely ask the accident victim how the incident occurred. It is important for the victim to only share the facts. Speculations and guesses can make the credibility of the victim seem questionable when the information is later reviewed by insurance company representatives.
Seek Medical Treatment
Immediately after an accident, the victim may be in shock. Although the victim may be seriously injured, the person may not realize it. Many accident-related injuries are not apparent at first.
If a victim feels any discomfort, then medical attention should be sought immediately. Even if the impact of the collision seemed minor, the force could still have been significant enough to cause a spinal injury.
Brief periods of confusion, blackouts or nausea should also be assessed or treated as soon as possible. The symptoms could indicate a concussion or brain injury.
Seeking prompt medical treatment can help prevent permanent injuries. In addition, the medical notes created during the treatment become records of the victim's injuries. If an insurer questions the type or severity of an injury, the notes can substantiate the claims.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Contacting a personal injury lawyer is one of the most important things that an accident victim should do immediately following the incident. The attorney can help guide the victim through the legal process as they pursue compensation — ensuring that the victim's rights are properly protected.
Insurance adjusters may try to obtain statements from the victim or have the injured person sign documents. However, it is best for the victim to direct the insurance representatives to an attorney. Adjusters often address an accident victim while the victim is vulnerable. Without being aware of what they are signing, a victim may agree in writing to accept a low level of compensation or to refrain from pursuing any further retribution.
The Law Offices Of Rene Castellanos offer free consultations to victims who have been seriously injured in an accident that was due to someone else's negligence. If you have been injured in an accident, contact our office to schedule an appointment.