When a car accident occurs, the aftermath can be a lot to handle. The actions you take following an accident are crucial. Questions begin to arise immediately:
What should I do at the scene of the accident?
How do I handle the insurance?
What do I do if I think the driver is under the influence of drugs and alcohol?
Do I need to call the cops after an accident?
On our personal injury blog, we've covered a lot of frequently asked questions we've heard from clients over the years. In an effort to compile them all in one convenient place for our clients, our car accident lawyers in Arizona have put together this FAQ article. If we've left out a question you have, let us know. You can call or text us at (602) 345-1818, or fill out our convenient online form.
If you live in New Mexico, we'll be compiling an FAQ article specifically for you, too. Watch our blog in the coming weeks.
At the Scene of the Accident
Knowing what to do while on the scene of the accident is crucial. Here are a few questions you may have if you have just been involved in an accident.
What Do I Do While at the Scene of the Accident?
When you've been involved in a car accident, the largest priority is ensuring your safety, as well as the safety of the other people involved. Here's a checklist detailing what to do while on the scene of a car accident to maintain your safety and the solidity of any future case you may have:
Directly after impact, assess your overall wellbeing, the wellbeing of your passengers, and of others involved in the accident. Immediately call 911 for emergency assistance, if needed.
Call the authorities to draft an official accident report. This is a crucial step, especially if you need to take legal action following the crash.
Obtain information from other drivers, including names, addresses, telephone numbers, driver's license numbers, and insurance details.
Talk to any eyewitnesses of the accident, and get their name and contact information
If you can do so safely, take photos of the accident. Note any property damage sustained, marks on the road or ground, nearby damaged guardrails, signs, or other objects. Remember not to post any of these photos online. It's best to keep any information pertaining to your accident off social media networks and the internet.
After an accident, many people feel the need to be apologetic. Remember to never take blame or admit fault of any kind. Saying things like “I should have looked left again” or “It wasn't your fault” may be used against you down the road.
See a doctor after the accident. Even if you “feel fine,” getting checked out by a medical professional is recommended. Sometimes people don't realize they have serious injuries, like internal bleeding or a brain injury. Additionally, some injuries may show up well after the accident has happened.
What Do I Do If I Suspect the Other Driver Is under the Influence?
If you believe the other driver may be intoxicated, ask the police officer on the scene if they will conduct field sobriety or breathalyzer test. Additional evidence you may be able to gather at the scene include:
Notes of what you saw before the crash, including things like swerving from the other driver, failure to stop at a red light, etc.
Observations after the accident, including things like the other driver stumbling, slurred speech, etc.
Eyewitness reports from others
Blood tests taken as soon as possible following the crash. Note that a breathalyzer test alone will not confirm drug use.
Evidence from cameras in the nearby area that may have caught footage or photos of the incident.
Remember to use caution in a situation where you believe the other driver is intoxicated. Wait for the police to arrive and collect evidence as safely as possible.
The Insurance Companies & Questions About Your Case
Insurance companies are usually at the center of car accident cases. Knowing how to file a claim, how to engage with the insurance company, and understanding the overall claims process are vital pieces of a car accident case. Here are a few things to know about dealing with insurance companies.
Should I Contact the Insurance Company or a Lawyer First?
After an accident, you have a duty to inform your own insurance company that it has happened. However, you don't need to inform them instantly. We advise consulting a car accident lawyer in Phoenix before you talk to the insurance company. Read more about how to talk to the insurance adjuster and submit a claim here.
What If the Insurance Companies Denies My Claim?
The first step to disputing a claim decision is understanding why the insurance company denied it. The reason for the denial could be as simple as an error on a form, or it could be as devious as bad faith insurance practices. No matter the reason, your lawyer can help you appeal the decision. Read more about insurance claim denials here.
What If I Was at Fault?
Arizona is an at-fault state, which means the person(s) at fault in the accident are financially responsible. The state also adheres to the “pure comparative negligence” approach, which allows multiple parties to be at fault and still be able to collect legal compensation. The liability is equal to each party's percentage of fault in the accident.
For example, if a plaintiff was rewarded $100,000 in damages, and they were found to be 20 percent liable, they'd receive $80,000 in compensation from the defendant who was found to be 80 percent responsible for the wreck. It can be difficult to divide and prove fault in an accident. If fault is being contested, be sure to talk to a lawyer.
Next Steps: Should I Consult an Accident Lawyer?
If you've been in an accident, it may be wise to consult with a car accident lawyer in Phoenix about your case. A lawyer can help you prove liability, calculate your personal liability, negotiate with the insurance company, and get you the compensation you deserve.
If we didn't address your car accident question in part one, look for part two of Arizona car accident FAQs in the coming weeks, or check out our blog for more informative content. There are a lot of questions to answer regarding auto accidents, and we'll continue to do so on our blog so you can educate yourself and get the best outcome possible. If you have urgent questions or need to speak with one of our trusted, experienced car accident lawyers, call or text us at (602) 345-1818. You can also fill out this convenient online form, and we'll reach out to you to set up a free initial consultation.