Step-by-step instructions on how to protect yourself if you are in a car accident.
Auto accidents are a significant cause of disabling injuries and deaths throughout the nation. what to do if you have a car accident is an excellent resource for this.
The facts about car accidents are alarming:
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicles accidents killed 43,443 Americans in 2005.
Another 2,494,000 people were injured in car crashes in that year alone.
Of those who died in highway accidents, three out of four were occupants of motor vehicles.
About 4,550 of the deceased victims were motorcyclists.
Another 5,665 of the people killed in car accidents were bicyclists or pedestrians.
Almost 17,000 of the fatal motor vehicle accidents was related to alcohol use.
A car accident can be a very upsetting experience. But it is very important not to panic after a car accident. Instead, keep a clear head.
First, and most important, Stay Calm
Focus first on acting to protect yourself and help other car accident victims. Do not discuss the car accident with anyone other than the police. Do not blame anyone, including yourself. Never argue with the other driver — even if you are sure that person caused the car accident.
Second, Get Help
Do not leave the site of the car accident. Call 9-1-1 from the car accident scene, to tell police about the collision.If anyone was injured, ask the 9-1-1 operator to send emergency medical personnel to the car accident site immediately.
Set flares, if you carry them, to warn other drivers to slow down and avoid the people and vehicles involved in the car accident.
Obtain the Drivers Facts
Write down the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number and state, license plate number, registration, and auto insurance information, including the insurance policy number.
If the driver of the other vehicle was not the owner, write down the name, address, insurance company, and auto insurance policy number of the owner of that vehicle.
Ask the police about all injured parties, including the passengers in the automobiles. If possible, take down their names, addresses, dates of birth, gender, and extent of injuries.
Look around for anyone who may have seen the car accident, including bystanders and occupants of other vehicles. Be sure to write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all these witnesses.
Write down the make, body type, year, and license number of all the motor vehicles involved in the car accident. Also, note the damage to each of the vehicles.
Car Accident Scene
Draw a diagram of the car accident site. Mark down the street names, and the location of any stop lights, traffic control signs, or other landmarks. Note the path of each motor vehicle just before the place where they collided.
Protect Your Health
After an automobile accident, get medical attention. Sometimes, car accident victims are too stunned right after a bad collision to know whether or not they were hurt. Therefore, it is wise to see your personal physician as soon as possible. Tell your doctor about the motor vehicle collision, so that he or she can check for internal injuries that may result from a traumatic accident.
Report the Car Accident
If police did not come to the car accident scene, call the police to file a report, as soon as you are able to make a telephone call. If the driver of the other vehicle fled the crash scene, you still must report the car accident to the police. Get a copy of the police report whenever it is available.
File an Auto Insurance Claim
Tell your auto insurance company about the car accident immediately and get an insurance claim number. Ask the auto insurance representative to open a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) file, to preserve all of your rights under your policy.
Be sure to let your insurance company know if you were in a hit-and-run car accident. Some insurance policies require notice of a claim involving an unidentified driver within 30 days of the car accident.
Tell your own auto insurance company that you claim your right to any uninsured or under insured motorist coverage, in case the car or truck that hit you was not covered by motor vehicle insurance. Insurance companies often require prompt notice of these claims and may deny these benefits to anyone who does not follow the strict requirements in their policies.
Attorney Marya Sieminski joined the Law Offices of Sam Bernstein in 2003. She is admitted to practice law in Michigan state courts and in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated magna cum laude from Wayne State University Law School. Marya has worked as a trial lawyer for 10 years and exclusively represented victims in personal injury litigation and in workers compensation claims. She also was appointed by the Governor to serve on the State of Michigan Workers Compensation Qualifications Advisory Committee.