You’ve been a cautious driver (except for that one speeding ticket from your 20’s) and, luckily, you haven’t been in an accident… until now. In just a matter of seconds, your airbag has deployed and you’re completely confused. What should you do?
1- First, remain calm. A car accident can be a terrifying experience. Shock and adrenaline can cause anyone to panic. Take deep breaths and focus on staying calm.
2- Check to see if you or your passengers have sustained any injuries. If anyone in your vehicle needs medical attention, immediately call 911. If you’re unable to call 911, ask someone else to do so. If you are seriously injured, try your best not to move until the emergency response team arrives. The same is true for any of your passengers.
3- Turn on your hazard lights if you are able to do so.
4- Do not move your vehicle until the police arrive, unless its placement is creating an immediate hazard. Insist that the other also not move his or her car as well, unless its position creates a hazard. If the accident was a minor one and your vehicle is creating a hazard where the collision placed it, then move the vehicle out of the flow of traffic only if it is safe to do so.
If you’re able, get to the safest place possible – perhaps on the side of the road or on a nearby sidewalk.
5- Call the police, even if the collision was not severe. When you’ve been in a minor accident, it can be really tempting to simply swap information with the other parties and avoid being late for work or school. However, a police report is an important piece to any insurance claim that you file. Be sure to call and wait for the police, no matter what is on your schedule.
6- As soon as you are able and it is safe to do so, document everything that you can remember about the accident, including where the crash occurred and everything that you can remember about how it happened.
7- Once the police arrive, be sure to tell the officer what happened, as best as you can. If you are unsure of any fact, let the officer know exactly that. Never guess or speculate. With endorphins running high within your body, you may not know whether you are injured or not right away. If you’re unsure, then be sure to say that you’re unsure, rather than “no.”
8- Take pictures of all involved vehicles, including license plates. If you or your passengers have injuries that are apparent, take photos. Also take photos of insurance cards for each driver involved.
9- When the police arrive, the officer(s) should collect information for each person involved in the accident. However, it’s a good idea for you to document this information as well. Record the name, address, and telephone number of each person involved in the accident. Document the same information for anyone who witnessed the accident, as well as the number of the police report. Additionally, document name(s) of the responding officer(s).
10- You should notify your insurance company of the accident; however, do not give a statement to any insurance adjuster immediately after the accident. This is important and one of the most common mistakes that individuals make after being involved in an accident. Insurance adjusters will usually request permission to record a statement or request a written statement from you shortly following the accident. You may not have adequate information at this point, including information regarding any injuries sustained. Giving a statement too early can negatively impact your ability to recover compensation for any medical bills that follow.
11- Seek medical attention as soon as pain is felt. Injuries sustained from a car accident may not be immediately apparent. Due to the adrenaline and endorphins flooding a person’s body after an accident, it may be hard to know whether you’re injured at first. It’s important to keep this in mind, since insurance adjusters often call for a statement as soon as they learn of the car accident (more reason to pay attention to step #10 discussed above). Minor pain felt following a car accident could be a first symptom of long-term injuries.
I can’t tell you how many people I know who thought “the pain isn’t that bad” or “I can’t afford to see a provider right now.” Unfortunately, delay in treatment – or foregoing it completely – is the worst thing you can do for both your health and your claim. Stalling for even two weeks following the accident can result in impaired legal rights, less compensation for your damages and, most importantly, adverse impact to your health.
12- Consult with an experienced attorney. An experienced and reputable car accident attorney should be able to provide you with a free, no-strings-attached consultation, inform you of your legal rights, and let you know if he/she recommends hiring an attorney for your claim. Sometimes hiring an attorney is not necessary or recommended. See our article on when you should hire a personal injury attorney for more information.
13- Keep organized and detailed records. We recommend that you keep all documents and information related to the car accident in one place. Remember the information that you recorded right after the accident? Tuck it in your file. The photos that you took? Keep those there, too. Receipts for expenses incurred as a result of the collision? You get the point. We also recommend that you keep a journal of your injuries, including your pain level for each day and how the injuries are affecting your daily life.
New Mexico Car Accident Attorney
Baskerville Law LLC is an auto accident law firm located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our car accident attorney is focused on diligently representing victims of auto collisions. Clients of Baskerville Law can expect personable, reliable and aggressive representation. We are devoted to recovering compensation that is fair for victims of auto accidents, so that they can focus on what is most important – their recovery.
If you or a loved one were recently involved in a New Mexico car accident, call (505) 247-2774 to speak with our car accident attorney today, free of charge and no strings attached. Alternatively, fill out the contact form below and we’ll contact you as soon as possible.
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