Car accidents are traumatic events, and they happen in an instant. One minute you are simply driving down the road trying to get to your destination, and the next, you are involved in a crash. You may be suffering from serious injuries, and you will experience a vast range of emotions, including frustration, anger, and stress.
Your injuries may prevent you from returning to work at a time when medical bills are piling up. If someone else was at fault for the crash, you should not be responsible for these losses. Filing a personal injury claim can help you recover the damages you deserve. To be successful with your case, you must remain calm in the moments, days, and weeks following the crash so you can take the appropriate steps. Below, our Phoenix car accident lawyer outlines the most important steps to take after any crash.
Stop Your Vehicle
There are many reasons you may want to simply continue driving after hitting another vehicle or being struck by one. You may fear that the other driver will retaliate against you. Or, you may believe there was not a lot of damage done, and so, continue on your way. This is one of the biggest mistakes anyone could make after a car crash. Leaving the scene of an accident can be considered a hit-and-run by law enforcement, which has serious consequences. If convicted, you could be sentenced to between 30 days to 12 years in jail. Always stop your vehicle after any accident.
You should always check yourself and others for any injuries after a car accident. This is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the law. The Arizona Revised Statutes require you to render ‘reasonable assistance' to anyone who is injured after a car accident. You must also help coordinate medical transportation if you are able to do so.
Report the Accident to the Police
After you report the accident to the police, they may file a report, which could indicate which driver was negligent and, therefore, at fault for the crash. This can strengthen any future personal injury claim you file. When speaking to the police, tell them everything you know about the accident, but do not make guesses. If there are details you do not know about the accident, say so.
Exchange Information With All Other Drivers Involved
State law also requires that you exchange information with all other drivers involved in the crash. The information you should obtain and provide to other motorists includes:
- Driver's license number
- Vehicle registration number
- Insurance information
Your lawyer will need this information when trying to obtain the fair car accident settlement you deserve.
Locate Witnesses and Obtain Their Information
Eyewitness statements are very strong pieces of evidence after a car accident. Witnesses have nothing to lose or gain from providing an honest statement about what they saw, and so, insurance companies and the courts give their testimony a lot of weight. It is incredibly difficult to find witnesses after you have left the accident scene, so locate them immediately after the crash. Pedestrians, occupants in other vehicles, emergency responders, and people in adjacent buildings are all potential witnesses to a crash. The information you want to ask eyewitnesses for includes:
- Home and business addresses
- Home and business telephone numbers
- Telephone numbers of people close to the witness, such as their spouse
Like the information you obtained from the other drivers involved, your lawyer will need the information you obtain from any eyewitnesses.
Seek Medical Treatment
Your safety and well-being should be your main priority after any accident. If you sustained injuries in a car accident, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. This will help mitigate your injuries and prevent them from becoming worse. Even if you do not think you sustained serious injuries, a doctor can examine you and find hidden injuries, which do not always present symptoms right away. However, there is another reason seeking medical treatment is so important after an accident.
Seeing a doctor after an accident will document your injuries, which will prove the nature and extent of them to the insurance company. If you do not seek medical treatment, the insurer will argue that you could not have sustained serious injuries because you did not see a doctor after the crash.
Document Everything Related to the Crash
Over time, memories will fade, and important evidence can go missing. Some of the best evidence is located at the accident scene. Take photos and video footage of the accident scene as a whole, your injuries, and pertinent information, such as close-ups of skid marks on the road. Also keep any receipts or bills you receive for medical treatment, a listing of the hours you missed from work if you could not return, and a journal outlining the pain your injuries have caused and how they have impacted your life. All of this is important evidence when filing a claim.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Arizona is a fault state when it comes to car accidents. This means to recover compensation, you must file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. Still, even if you were not at fault for the crash, you should still report the accident to your own insurance company. Most insurance policies require that you do this, and if you fail to, the insurer may cancel your policy.
Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer in Phoenix Immediately
As soon as possible after a crash, it is critical that you speak to a Phoenix car accident lawyer. At Impact Legal, our seasoned attorneys can help you through the necessary steps to take and give you the best chance of obtaining the full and fair settlement that is justly yours. Call us now at 602-345-1818 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. We are happy to travel to your home, the hospital, or the rehabilitation center where you are receiving treatment, making the entire process as convenient as possible for you.