What you do right after a car accident could either help or hurt your legal position. Although it can be hard to think straight after the shock of a crash, you can take concrete steps to protect your health and finances. Car accident lawyers Las Vegas consistently recommend that accident victims take the following actions.
1. Stay at the Accident Scene
Anyone who leaves the scene of an accident that causes bodily injury is vulnerable to a felony charge. Even if you were not at fault, you do not want to cast yourself in a negative light. Therefore, you should not drive away and assume you can take care of things later. You need to stop your vehicle, not only because it is the law, but because you need a chance to communicate with the other driver and collect information about what happened.
2. Move Your Vehicle Out of the Way If Possible
If your vehicle can function at all, the law obligates you to move your vehicle to the side of the road. Continuing to obstruct traffic increases the danger for yourself and others.
Of course, many accidents render a vehicle inoperable, and sometimes vehicle occupants require rescue. In such a situation, you should call 911 because emergency personnel will be needed to provide medical care, manage traffic problems, and summon tow trucks.
3. Evaluate Yourself for Injuries
Injuries are often immediately evident due to pain or visible blood. Emergency medical technicians will ask you about injuries as soon as they arrive. Explain your problems and let an EMT evaluate you. You might be routed to a hospital or advised to follow up with your doctor as soon as possible. Even if no one tells you to see a doctor, any accident attorney in Las Vegas will urge you to get a medical evaluation right away. The resulting medical record will associate any injuries that may be detected with the date of your crash.
At this point it is very important not to say that you are unhurt. Such a statement could be used against you during an insurance claim or lawsuit when you pursue accident damages. You could be hurt and not know it. The adrenaline released by your body after the collision can mask your pain for a time. Additionally, traumatic brain injury does not always present symptoms immediately, and TBI is a very common result of a car accident. In fact, TBIs are well known for delayed symptoms. Injured brain cells may take time to degrade and begin to impact your cognitive abilities.
Because you should never lie to individuals, insurers, or police about your injuries, you can truthfully say “I don’t know” when asked about being hurt. You realistically need a medical evaluation before you can definitively say “yes” or “no.”
4. Call the Police
Unless an accident is extremely minor, as in no injuries or property damage above $750 in value, you must inform law enforcement of the car accident. Serious accidents often result in the local police showing up anyway, which means that a report will be prepared. Otherwise, you should summon the police yourself.
If police fail to show up, you can still officially report the accident. The Department of Motor Vehicles provides a form for this purpose. A car accident lawyer could help you with this process. Additionally, a personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas uses a police report as official documentation about your crash, which is important for insurance or litigation purposes.
Once again, when you answer questions from a police officer, be cautious about admitting fault. You were just one part in a multifaceted event and may not know all of the details. As an extra precaution, you should refrain from any apologies. People might interpret that as an admission of fault.
You should receive an Accident Information Exchange sheet from the police officer. This document will be important for your case and help a car accident lawyer in Las Vegas prepare your accident claim.
5. Exchange Information With the Other Driver
Unless you are badly hurt, you and the other driver or drivers involved should exchange contact and insurance information. Taking pictures of IDs and insurance cards with your phone is a quick way to do this.
6. Take Pictures and Collect Witness Contact Information
Any information that you can capture at the time of the accident could help to prove your right to compensation. Pictures of the accident scene, vehicle damage, vehicle license plates, injuries, road conditions, or traffic signs are all useful. The video camera on a phone can be used to collect witness statements as well.
Of course, injuries often prevent a victim from doing these tasks. Even so, car accident lawyers in Las Vegas can revisit the scene and collect as much information as possible.
7. Seek Medical Attention
Do not assume that a bruised leg or bump on the head is nothing. You could have a bone fracture or concussion. A person who does not have any medical documentation can expect difficulty when pursuing compensation for injuries. Whether you receive first aid from EMTs or go to the hospital, ask medical workers to make careful notes in your records and specifically cite that you were just in a crash.
8. Inform Your Insurer About the Accident
Most insurance policies require that you report accidents right away, maybe even within 24 hours. Even if you think that the accident was your fault, a timely accident report could help an insurer defend you. You may also contact a car accident lawyer in Las Vegas for more information about your rights.
If you were not at fault, representation from a car accident lawyer can protect you from attempts to devalue your claim. Legal advice is very important before you accept or decline a settlement offer. Insurers often make low offers in the hopes of settling a case before you fully understand your damages.
9. Keep Records of All Expenses
Personal injury law allows for the recovery of many types of expenses beyond medical bills and lost income depending on the circumstances. For example, keep receipts for all bills related to travel for medical care.
10. Do Not Post About the Accident on Social Media
People love virtual hugs from their friends after getting hurt in a car accident, but you should limit or avoid sharing information about your crash on social media. An insurer could access any statements or photos that you post and potentially use them to dispute your claim.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer
Lach Injury Law is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Attorney Darren J. Lach, Esq. has built a legal team dedicated to recovering compensation for accident victims. Painful injuries and worries about your finances can make dealing with an insurer or the court very challenging. Let us defend you from those who want to avoid financial responsibility for your suffering. To talk to a car accident lawyer now and contact Lach Injury Law today.