We hope that you never need this information. If, however, you are involved in a serious car accident because of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, there are several things you should do immediately. With over 35,000 fatal accidents in the U.S. in 2015, and well over 2 million accidents causing injury annually, it’s smart to be prepared.
So what should you do right away?
1. Get help.
You may realize immediately that you’re injured, or you may not fully comprehend the severity of your injuries at the scene. Adrenaline from the shock of an accident can mask pain. Other symptoms-especially internal injuries, whiplash, or head injuries-may take days to develop. You may not be aware that you’ve lost consciousness until you try to reconstruct events afterward. Unfortunately, when you’re not thinking clearly, you can’t think clearly about your ability to think clearly!
The bottom line: don’t assume you’re okay if you’ve been in a major accident. Get help. Call emergency services so that the police can start to investigate while qualified medical personnel evaluate and treat you.
2. Stay calm.
It would be completely understandable for you to be furious at someone else’s carelessness or terrified after a serious accident. Try your best to stay calm for your own sake.
In the short term, EMTs and medical professionals need you to be able to answer questions so they can accurately assess your physical and mental state. Police officers attempting to reconstruct what happened appreciate a calm report of the facts. If you are hysterical or flying off the handle with rage, these impressions may color the way reports are written and ultimately the way blame is assigned.
We will help you fight when the time comes. Immediately after an accident, standing on the side of the road, is not the time or the place to wage war.
3. Don’t apologize or admit fault.
Don’t take your calm and courteous demeanor so far that you start apologizing to anyone or admitting fault. Be honest with the police, but stay fact-based. Keep your opinions and your assumptions to yourself. Even saying that you’re sorry about what happened may be interpreted later as an admission that you did something wrong. Let the insurance company and the police assign fault, but don’t give them any ammunition to use against you.
While you’re keeping your thoughts to yourself, do not post about the accident or your injuries on social media. If you later have to take your case to court to recover damages from the person at fault, everything you post about the event and its consequences will be disclosed. Don’t minimize your damages by assuring people that you’re okay or create any doubt about fault through your statements.
Wondering what’s next? See Part 2 for steps to take as soon as possible.
You don’t have to go this alone. PCVA Law’s attorneys specialize in major traffic accidents, medical malpractice, and product liability, in addition to other types of personal injury cases. Let’s talk about your case so you can focus on your recovery.