A Lawyer’s Perspective on What to do After a Vehicle Crash

Over 18 million people in the United States are injured in vehicle crashes every year. That means that the chances that you'll be injured in a vehicle crash in the next year are roughly one in 16, according to Professor Jeff Rosenthal from the University of Toronto.

In a video on the Science Channel website, Rosenthal breaks down the numbers and discusses the groups most likely to be involved in and suffer injuries from a crash. Younger drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident than other age groups, while older drivers are more likely to die when involved in a crash. Drivers can reduce the likelihood of being involved in a crash, says Rosenthal, by slowing down, putting away their phones and never getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Yet, there are only so many things we can do to minimize our chances of being involved in a wreck. So much of what happens to us on the road depends on the actions of other drivers. What we can control, however, is what we do after we're involved in an accident.

Lawyers who handle vehicle crash injury cases get one question frequently - What should I do immediately following a crash? It's a good question, because your actions might have big ramifications on your health and any legal issues that stem from the crash.

It's important to realize that no two wrecks are the same. Thus, what you should do might be different than what someone else should do. But there are some general things to keep in mind. Let's look at a few of them…

Make sure that everyone involved in the crash is okay. After a crash, people's bodily defenses kick into overdrive in response to a perceived emergency. It is not uncommon for people injured in vehicle crashes to be unaware of the extent of the damage they've suffered because they are in a state of shock. In other words, even if you suspect that you or anyone else might be hurt, seek immediate medical attention.

Call the police to notify them of the crash. The police will come to the scene of the incident to talk to people involved and file a report. This report will be important for your records and the records of your insurance company. Be honest and forthcoming with the officer and obtain a copy of the report, if possible.

Exchange basic information with the driver of the other vehicle. Get their name, contact information and insurance information. However, refrain from talking too much about the crash with the other driver. Remember that what you say after an accident will have legal ramifications, which brings us to this point…

Don't admit fault without knowing all the facts of the crash. Some people tend to apologize for things that aren't their fault. While the intentions might be good, the fact is that crashes are often complex and have several contributing factors. If you say that the crash was your fault, you'll likely be taken at your word and you might be held liable for the damages that occur, even if you later discover that you did not bear full responsibility for the crash.

Take pictures of the crash site, if possible. If you can do so, document the scene of the accident. These pictures might be useful for you, your insurance company or your attorney when filing a claim.

Collect the contact information of any witnesses. Did someone nearby see what happened? If so, their account could also be useful in a claim. Ask for their contact information so you can reach out to them later.

In the days, weeks and months that follow, keep records of everything related to your wreck. This includes police reports, insurance company correspondence, repair costs, medical bills and any other documents or interactions that you have regarding your crash.

If you were injured in an accident, consider contacting an attorney. An experienced vehicle crash attorney will be able to assist you in filing a personal injury claim to make sure you receive compensation for all costs stemming from your injury. Your attorney will also deal with insurance companies so that you don't have to worry about saying or doing something that will hurt the chances of getting compensation you deserve.

Being involved in a vehicle crash can be a traumatic experience. Unfortunately, what comes after a crash might also be a source of anxiety and frustration. That's why an attorney is useful for someone injured in a wreck. They can handle many of the complexities that follow the accident and allow their client the ability to focus on recovering from an injury.

Keep these things in mind and consider keeping a checklist in your vehicle so you have a guide to follow if you do have the unfortunate experience of being a car accident.

David Mann is a personal injury attorney and owner of the Mann Law Firm. He represents clients throughout Georgia.

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