Car Accident Timeline: What to Do in the Days & Weeks After a Car Crash
In 2014, there were 6.1 million traffic accidents reported by police, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That is an average of 16,712 accidents per day in the United States. Traffic accidents are so common, but they are also unpredictable. That’s why they’re called accidents.
There are a few things you should know in case you are ever involved in an accident. As a personal injury lawyer, I’ve outlined some simple, basic steps that will prepare you for the unexpected.
Before the Accident: Prepare Now
Always carry certain items in your vehicle, including your driver’s license, automobile registration, insurance information, and any medical information for you and your family that may be useful in the event of an accident.
Buckle your seatbelt. According to the NHTSA, buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in the event of an accident. A seatbelt increases your chance of surviving a car wreck by as much as 60 percent.
Immediately After the Accident
First, check for injuries and call 911. If the accident is minor, pull the car over out of the way of traffic to a safe place nearby and turn on your hazard lights. Once you have reported the accident to police, exchange insurance information with any other drivers involved and document the scene.
Take photographs to document the accident scene and any damage to vehicles. Make immediate notes about the accident, including specifics about damage to all vehicles and your first impression of what led up to and caused the accident. Gather information from witnesses, and note the condition of the road and weather conditions.
While you wait on a police officer to arrive at the scene or finish the police report, call and report the accident to your insurance company. They may have further instructions for you in the following days.
Finally, do not sign anything unless it is for your insurance company or the police.
Over the Next Few Days
Oftentimes, people involved in even minor accidents think they are okay at first, but they become sore in the following days. The full extent of injuries from even minor accidents is unknown for days, weeks, months or longer. Seek medical attention as soon as you experience pain or other health problems following the accident.
Keep track of all medical treatment related to the accident. Ensure your medical providers know that your injuries and treatment are related to the accident and document everything.
You should not be surprised if you are contacted by the at-fault driver’s insurance company soon after the wreck. Beware of early settlement offers. To protect yourself, you should avoid speaking to any insurance company besides your own without advice from a personal injury lawyer in Arkansas.
If you are injured and the accident was not your fault, consider contacting a personal injury lawyer in Alabama for a consultation.
Pay Attention to the Road and Save Lives
All motor vehicle accidents are avoidable, especially those caused by distracted drivers.
Common driver distractions include texting, eating or drinking, using a cellphone, talking to passengers, reading, watching videos, adjusting the radio or CD player, grooming, and putting on makeup. Although some of these activities seem quick and harmless, they all require you to look away from the road. When you take your eyes off the road, you put your life and others’ lives at risk.
Texting is the most alarming distraction of all because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention. Even sending a quick text message takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. When traveling at 55 miles per hour, that is enough time to travel the entire length of a football field blindfolded. Imagine what can happen in that amount of time.
Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Alabama
If you or someone you love are injured in a car accident, consider consulting a personal injury lawyer. Let the experts walk you through the process, protect your interests, and advocate for you.