Thousands of car accidents happen every day in America. With over 6 million auto accidents per year, roughly 1 in 50 Americans suffer an auto injury annually. Most people will experience at least one auto accident in their lifetime, be it a minor fender bender or a serious wreck. Whatever the case, everyone should know what to do right after a car accident.
Check for Injuries
When the car finally comes to a complete stop, take a moment to catch your breath, and identify pain points. If you suffered a serious injury, such as a fracture, it’s better to remain still and prevent further damage.
If you see blood, stay in your seat if safe to do so and call 911. Try to remain calm. By calling for emergency services, you’re preventing the situation from getting any worse and ensuring you get the best possible care when you need it most.
If you don’t feel any immediate pain, slowly move your body as though stretching. If you experience any pain, take note of what hurts and avoid moving that part of your body until examined by a medical professional.
Meet the Other Driver
If you’re well enough to get out of the vehicle, you’ll have to meet the other driver. Many motorists are apprehensive about meeting the at-fault driver, but it is a necessary step. Besides, the other driver might need medical attention.
If the other driver does not get out of their car shortly after the crash, they may need help. Check if they’re alright and call for emergency services if necessary.
If neither you nor the other driver experienced serious external injuries, strike up a dialogue. While speaking to the other driver, keep a level head and stick to the facts. Don’t apologize or say you’re sorry unless you’re willing to accept full liability for the incident
It’s important to choose your words carefully while talking to the other driver. North Dakota is a “no-fault state,” but that only applies to inexpensive bodily damage. Someone must be held responsible for the vehicle damage. For that reason, avoid saying things like “it all happened so fast” or “I didn’t have time to brake.” The other driver’s insurance could use these terms against you during negotiations.
Call for Help
Someone must call the police if the crash caused more than $1,000 in property damage or if someone was injured or killed. Failure to inform police of a serious accident could result in license suspicion or even a hit and run charge.
If the accident was only a minor fender bender and nobody was hurt, you don’t have to call the police. However, you might want to call the Highway Patrol’s non-emergency number.
Having a police officer on the scene creates a record of the accident written by an unbiased, third party. This report can be invaluable evidence when pursuing legal action.
Exchange Insurance Information
While waiting for police, make an effort to exchange insurance information. Drivers involved in their first accident often don’t know what information to trade.
After an accident, you should exchange:
· Mailing Address
· Phone Number
· Insurance Provider
· Policy Number
· Driver’s License Number
· License Plate Number
This information will help your insurance company start negotiations with the other driver’s insurance. If you’re worried the other driver provided false information, try to get a police officer on the scene to file a report. While filing a report, police often run both driver’s licenses through their mobile data terminals (MDT) to verify that the information is accurate.
After exchanging information, establish a visual record. Take out your cellphone camera and get a few pictures. Most people know they need pictures of the damage. However, few know that having more pictures can help your attorney and your insurance companies determine who caused the vehicle damage.
After an accident, you should take pictures of:
· The damage to your car
· The damage to the other driver’s car
· Both cars together (if they haven’t been moved)
· The other driver’s license plate (especially if they have a vanity plate with unusual characters)
· The surrounding scene where the crash took place.
Taking pictures of the scene is especially important as it can demonstrate the circumstances of where the accident took place
Go to the Doctor
When you’re finally ready to leave the scene of the accident, go straight to the doctor. If you’re unable to see a doctor the same day, at least schedule an appointment. Although North Dakota is a no-fault state, a medical professional should examine you for unseen injuries.
Car crashes often result in blunt-force trauma. This may cause hairline fractures, internal bleeding, or even punctured organs. Promptly going to a doctor improves your chances of discovering and treating these injuries before they get worse.
Call Your Insurance Company
Most insurance policies require you to report an accident within 24 hours. Fulfill your obligations if healthy you’re enough to do so. However, go no further than simply reporting the accident. Don’t agree to a recorded statement until an experienced legal professional has coached you through the process.
Likewise, if you receive a phone call from the other driver’s insurance, politely decline. Speaking to them can only undermine your vehicle damage case.
Contact an Attorney
After taking care of everything else, consider speaking to an experienced auto injury attorney. An attorney will fight for you and manage your case while you rest and recover. Having an attorney fight for you can remove the burden of an extremely stressful time for you and your family.
If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries in a car accident, you might have a case. If you’d like an experienced Minot personal injury attorney from Pringle & Herigstad to evaluate your claim, please send us an email or call (701) 599-4337.