A car accident is one of the scariest experiences you can have. On top of the horror and violence of the collision itself, you’re scared of the financial consequences of being in a wreck. For simple fender-benders, an exchange of insurance information between drivers is enough. Frequently, drivers let minor crashes go in order to avoid paying higher insurance premiums. When you’ve been in a major car crash, you’ll need to take some immediate steps to be safe, avoid criminal charges and protect your financial interests.
How to Avoid a Car Accident
Always focus on your driving. Do not rely on other people or vehicles to drive or walk around safely. You must take responsibility for what is going on around you. If you’re aware, you can see an accident about to happen and hopefully see it in time to avoid a collision.
Do not speed. This is particularly important in residential neighborhoods where a child or animal could run into the road.
Do not do anything else when you’re driving. Even using a hands-free device to talk on the phone can distract you. Remember, a car is a potentially lethal weapon.
Pay special attention to what’s going on at intersections. Be prepared to take evasive action if another driver runs a red light or pedestrian steps into the street. Intersections are where a lot of collisions happen.
Look for bicyclists and motorcyclists. In most collisions with bicycles and motorcycles, the other driver did not see them.
How Do Seat Belts Help in a Car Crash?
Always make sure all occupants in your car, including the family pet, are belted in. Small children should be in child safety seats in the back. You can buy special devices to secure your pet to a seat belt when they ride with you in the car.
Even with seat belts, car accidents cause serious injuries, but without being belted in, you are several times more likely to suffer debilitating, disfiguring injury or death. Without a seat belt there’s nothing to restrain your body from:
•being tossed around like a rag doll
•being slammed up against a hard object
•from going through the windshield
•being thrown out of the vehicle into oncoming traffic
How to Handle a Car Accident
•If you see that an accident is imminent, it is important to remain calm and do what you can to control your vehicle and minimize the impact.
•You may be able to steer your car and avoid a head-on-collision or a collision with a tree or pole.
•You should decide whether to slow down, or speed up to minimize the impact depending on where the other vehicle or object is coming at you from.
•If you do not have anti-lock brakes, pump your brakes rather than slamming on the brakes. If your brakes lock you won’t be able to steer.
How to Deal With a Car Accident Emotionally: Stay at the Accident Scene
No matter how dazed or scared you are, stay at the accident scene. Emotions are high after an accident, and remaining calm is important. Concentrating on what needs to be done helps you keep your emotions in check.
•If you leave an accident scene, you can be charged with hit-and-run. If you need to move your car out of the road, move it to a safe spot that’s as close to the accident scene as possible.
•Check to see if other passengers in your vehicle are injured, if you are physically able to do so. If everybody’s okay in your car, you can check to see if occupants of other vehicles need help.
•Call 911 for medical assistance.
•If you have other occupants in your car, your calmness will help them to feel safer. You are the captain of the ship, and if you act scared or panicked, everybody else will also be scared.
How to Get Money From a Car Accident
In some states, if you made a mistake which contributed to the accident, no matter how small, your mistake will bar you from recovering any damages in a lawsuit, even if you are seriously injured or a family member dies. In most states, your claim will be reduced by the percentage of contributory negligence (partial responsibility) you’re found to have.
Do not say anything to anyone at the car accident scene regarding:
•How fast you were driving
•What you were doing
•Whether your car works right
•Whether you think you caused the accident
•How badly you think you are hurt
You cannot know what all caused the accident. In most accidents, both drivers are at least partly responsible. Let the police and the accident scene investigators determine whose fault the accident was.
How to Claim Injury in a Car Accident
The best thing you can do after being in a car accident is to get a complete medical checkup. Even if you do not think you are hurt, you may be seriously injured. Get medical help as soon as you can (go to the emergency room in an ambulance from the accident scene).
Even if you weren’t driving fast, when your body suddenly stops after traveling at 20 miles an hour or faster, you’re thrown against the seat belt or the airbag. The jerking motion could have injured your spine, your neck or your brain.
Sometimes symptoms don’t show up for days or longer. Always get a medical checkup immediately after an accident.
How Much to Expect From a Car Accident Settlement
Even if you’ve been seriously injured, the insurance company will do everything it can to reduce or deny your claim. You must contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as you possibly can after being in a car accident. Ideally, you could call an attorney from the scene of the crash.
Isaacs & Isaacs car accident lawyers are on call around-the-clock to be there for our clients in their injury emergencies. You can reach us by calling our hotline at 800-800-8888, or fill out our online form for a free consultation with an experienced and aggressive Isaacs & Isaacs car accident lawyer.
In order to help your attorney negotiate your claim, you can take steps at the accident scene. Download our What to do In a Car Accident Checklist PDF to keep in your glove box, or just open it now if you are at a car accident scene.
What to do In a Car Accident Checklist