In the U.S. approximately 10.8 million traffic accidents occur each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureaus, which means that at least 1 in 11 adults will be affected. (2)(3)
Despite the overwhelming odds that each person will experience a traffic accident at least once, many people report not understanding the procedure for handling the aftermath.
After the collision, questions arise, such as should you move your car? What if the accident causes no physical damage? What if the other person involved is not insured, or you suspect they may not be? Should you ask witnesses for contact information?
It is natural to be concerned. After all, a traffic accident can be a minor fender bender, but it can also be a more serious, even a life-threatening experience, if the impact should cause damage someone's health. Approximately 36,000 vehicle accident related deaths occur each year. (2)
A lawsuit is also a potential consequence. According to the U.S Department of Justice, 8,100 traffic-related personal injury trials occur each year, which is only 4 percent of the 202,000 traffic-related personal injury lawsuits. The statistics indicate that 19 percent of traffic accidents result in a lawsuit. (1)
It is important to ensure that you make the correct decisions at an accident scene to prevent future complications.
Is anyone injured?
Following an accident, assess if the passengers or drivers of all vehicles are injured. If the answer is yes, do not move the vehicles. Call and the dispatcher will send an ambulance and police officer. Wait seat-belted in the vehicle if injured, otherwise walk to a safe area.
Are the vehicles damaged?
If no person is injured, assess if the vehicles sustained damage. If the vehicles are not damaged, filing a traffic report is not always necessary. If the vehicles are damaged but drivable move them to a safe area away from traffic. Call the police in order to file a traffic accident report.
Exchange insurance and contact information and wait until the authorities arrive.
Do you need witness contact information?
If the fault of the accident is unclear, request the contact information from any witnesses that may be able to corroborate the accident details. If it is possible to safely photograph the vehicles' positions following the accident, do so before moving them to a safe area.
Call the police
Do not allow the driver of the other vehicle to convince you to handle the accident with no police involvement. The insurance information they provide could be expired or inaccurate, and the traffic accident report is helpful when you file a claim with an insurance.
Do not discuss the accident
Do not admit fault or discuss the accident with the driver of the other vehicle because it is the job of the police and insurance company to assess the fault of the accident.
In the case of a personal injury, an attorney can use the documentation you gather and the police report to investigate a case that will nearly always result in a settlement reached with the insurance company. Nearly 1 in 5 traffic accident result in a lawsuit. If you should need to pursue legal action to obtain compensation for property expenses, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, discuss the accident with a personal injury attorney. If you have no legal representation, the insurance company may attempt to offer a settlement that does not adequately pay for the expenses that you incurred in the traffic accident.
It can be stressful to be a participant in a car accident claim, but the system is designed to use the lawsuit and settlement process to obtain payment in a large quantity of cases. Call us today.