Auto Accident Injury: 8 Things to Do Immediately
- January 5, 2012
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You have just been involved in a car accident in Phoenix and you realize that your life may be turned upside-down, possibly for a long period of time. Your car is damaged, you may have suffered injuries, and likely to incur medical expenses and financial hardship.
With an average of 12.6 million motor vehicle accidents occurring yearly1 in the United States you’re bound to be involved in an automobile accident and quite possibly sustain some type of auto accident injury. In Arizona in 2009 there were a total of 106,767 accidents, with 50,610 of them resulting in injury and 806 fatalities.2
Someone sustains an auto accident injury in a car crash every 14 seconds and about two million of the people injured in car accidents each year suffer permanent injuries.3
8 THINGS TO DO IMMEDIATELY
1. Don’t panic. Do not leave the scene. Take an personal inventory. Did your car come to rest in a safe location? Are you injured? Can you safely exit your vehicle? Remain at the accident scene until police have arrived and do not leave until you have completed all details needed.
2. Am I injured? What is my best response? Your injuries may not be obvious because adrenaline may temporarily mask the pain and discomfort of your auto accident injuries. Additionally, some injuries do not become symptomatic until several days (even weeks) after the accident. At the scene, you will likely be asked by the other driver, investigating police officer and witnesses if you are okay. The best answer is “Yes, I am injured,” or “I don’t know yet.” It is important not to make any statements that you are okay because you may feel miserable a few hours later.
When EMTs arrive, they will help you assess whether you should be transported to the emergency room. Explain to the EMTs in detail all areas of your body that are injured or “don’t feel right.” They will document what you tell them in case the other driver later claims that you are not injured at the scene.
3. Your cell phone is your friend. Use it to
- Call 911 immediately
- Take accident scene photos, and
- Alert EMTs of your emergency contacts
Call 911 and do not move your vehicle before the police arrive (unless the impact is minor and your car is causing an obstruction to traffic). The other driver may suggest moving the vehicles or that calling the police is not necessary. Make certain the police are called to the scene.
Only if the collision is minor in nature and blocking traffic should drivable vehicles be moved off the traveled portion of the roadway. However, if possible, before moving the vehicles photograph the entire accident crash site.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Photograph, or have someone photograph for you, where the vehicles came to rest after the car accident. Photograph the property damage to your vehicle and all other vehicles involved in the car accident. If there is road construction, be certain to photograph the relevant part of the construction. It is important to photograph any debris or skid marks from the collision. This will identify exactly where the point of impact occurred during the car accident.
Keep emergency contact information in your cell phone. Emergency medical personnel and first responders have been trained to look for EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION in cell phones under the contact name ICE (In Case of Emergency). Store the name and phone number of your emergency contact[s] under ICE in your phone. Click on the example to the right to see an larger view.
4. Give your statement to the investigating police officers. If you do not require immediate transportation to the emergency room, it is important to explain to the investigating police officer how the accident occurred. The other driver may not tell the whole story or may tell a complete fabrication as to how the accident occurred.
Witnesses sometimes are helpful; other times they do not see the entire accident event and therefore, provide inaccurate or incomplete information. Do not rely on others to inform the investigating officer how the accident occurred. Be prepared to explain what the other driver did wrong.
The police officer will write a traffic accident report and may be a witness as to what was said at the scene. It is important to set the record straight right from the beginning.
5. Follow-up medical assessment and care. If you are not transported by the EMTs to the emergency room, it is important for a medical professional to document your auto accident injury. It is best to be checked-out at an emergency room, urgent care center or, at a minimum, by your primary care physician. Tell your medical provider about all areas of injury, bruises, soreness, stiffness, point out any seat belt marks, etc. Briefly describe how the accident occurred to your medical provider, but do not embellish the facts of the accident.
6. Get information about the other driver and any witnesses. If the police are delayed or do not arrive, get the following information from each other driver involved in the accident:
- Driver’s name, address, telephone number, license plate number, driver’s license number
- Driver’s Insurance policy number and other relevant information
- Record any witness information: Write down the name, address, phone number, and email address of any witnesses
Failure to get this critical information could affect the outcome of your claim/case.
7. Know what documents you need to have with you at all times:
- Valid Driver’s License
- Vehicle Registration
- Valid Auto Insurance Card
- Pad of paper and a pen/pencil in your glove compartment for notes
- Cell Phone or disposable camera for emergencies
- Medical Emergency Card, create one for free here
8. Let the professionals establish fault. Any dispute about fault regarding your auto accident injury should be handled later (not at the accident scene) with insurance companies and legal counsel, if necessary. Professionals educated in accident law will be able to establish fault and assess percentage of fault in the event that both drivers were contributory to the car accident.
In some instances, assessing fault can be complicated and require experts and discovery. You can do your part by:
- Being truthful about what occurred, without using words like “my fault.”
- Accurately describe the other driver’s wrongful driving. If you believe the other driver caused the accident, then it is okay to tell the officer or insurance adjuster that the other driver was at fault.
- Being prepared to tell why the other driver was at fault.
- Being prepared to give accurate accident information. If you give a statement to an insurance company, have a copy of the police officer’s diagram in front of you, or use your own accident sketch diagram. Many cases are jeopardized or lost because of a confusing statement due to unfamiliarity with the scene, guessing as to the names of the roads, not knowing the speed limits or the direction of travel of the vehicles and other important information.
- Not discussing any settlement at the scene.
- Not agreeing to pay for any damages
Arizona is a pure comparative fault state. The other person’s insurance company may attempt to place some fault on you (even if you are not at fault) in order to diminish your property damage and auto accident injury recovery.
We recommend that you do not give a statement to the other driver’s insurance adjuster. Instead, contact Andrew or Alex & Saavedra at Alex & Gaxiola at 602-971-1775. Your auto injury lawyer at Alex & Gaxiola will prepare you to give an accurate recorded statement of the accident.
Remember: The decision of who is at fault can impact your car accident claim, auto accident injuries and future car insurance rates.
How to Choose an Accident Injury Lawyer
Alex & Saavedra, auto injury lawyers, have over 37 years successfully representing clients in motor vehicle accidents. We have the experience, expertise and proven results to help accident victims, even in the most complex auto accident injury cases.
Alex & Saavedra legal firm represent clients in Phoenix-Scottsdale metropolitan area as well as the entire State of Arizona. To speak with our experienced Auto Accident Injury attorneys call now for a free consultation of your injury or wrongful death case, or visit www.asinjurylaw.com.
2 2009 Motor Vehicle Crash Facts for the State of Arizona, prepared by: The Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Division, Publication Date: September 29, 2010
3 U.S. Department of Transportation Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for 2008