No one likes to think about being injured in a car accident. However, the Census Bureau reports that there were 10.8 million motor vehicle accidents in 2009 (the last year data is available) in the United States, and that one-third of accidents result in injury. That means that there is a chance that you will be injured in a car accident.
The good news is that you are unlikely to be seriously injured. However, even if you don’t think your injuries are serious, you need to be prepared. Here are 5 things to do if you are injured in a car accident:
1. Document Your Story
If you are in the proper condition to do so, begin documenting the situation. Get pictures of your car, as well as visible injuries that you have. Take notes on your injuries, if you recognize them as such. Speak with witnesses to the accident, gathering their contact information.
Most of us carry cell phones capable of taking pictures, as well as allowing us to enter contact information. However, it’s a good idea to keep a disposable camera and a pencil and paper in the glove box as back up.
2. Don’t Admit Fault
This is good advice whether you are injured in a car accident or not. Don’t say things like “I’m sorry” to others. Be polite, and ask if those involved in the accident are ok, but don’t apologize at this point. You don’t want to say anything that is construed as accepting fault. Instead, you want the investigators to determine that without encouragement from you.
The only people you should make statements to are law enforcement officers, and then stick to the facts. If you aren’t sure what to say, and you are injured, ask if you can be treated first. This gives you a chance to collect your thoughts — and to call a lawyer.
3. Accept Medical Care
Even if you don’t think that your injuries are “that bad,” you should accept medical care. See a doctor, who can check for injuries. This is vital because the adrenaline you feel at the scene of a car accident might actually mask your symptoms. Additionally, some symptoms might appear a few hours later. See a doctor, and report everything you feel — even if you don’t think it’s a “big deal.” Some of the symptoms to report include:
- Ringing in your ears
- Fluid in your ears
- A feeling of disorientation or confusion
- Memory loss
- Anything that feels a little “off” about you physically or mentally
You need to accept medical attention because, in some states, if you don’t, an argument can be made that your injuries happened at some later date. If you see a doctor immediately, though, you reserve the ability to argue that you thought that something was wrong. Consider scheduling a follow-up for a few days later to catch injuries that might become more manifest after a little time has passed.
4. File an Accident Report
Filing an accident report with the police can help ensure that your insurance company speeds up your claim — or at least takes it seriously. This is just one more step in the documentation process that supports your assertion that an insurance company (the other driver’s or yours) pays as it should.
5. Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
You need a lawyer. Even if you don’t hire us, you should hire someone. (But you should really hire us.) Hiring a personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas should be one of the first things you do to ensure that your interests are protected. Your attorney can handle the paperwork, as well as deal with the insurance company — your own and/or the other driver’s. In fact, if the insurance company (any company) contacts you, refer the representative to your lawyer. Your attorney can also help you interact with law enforcement.
Personal injury attorneys are knowledgeable about car accident injuries and can make sure that you are well taken care of, and that you get the settlement you deserve.
Ryan Anderson is a founding partner of the law firm Morris Anderson, one of the leading personal injury firms in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has resolved hundreds of cases and obtained millions of dollars for his clients. Circle Ryan on Google+!