Car crashes take a massive toll across the United States as nearly 6 million wrecks are reported each year. In 2018, 33,654 fatal crashes resulted in 36,560 deaths. In Georgia, 1,504 lives were lost that year, resulting from 1,407 crashes.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says nearly 3 million people receive at least minor injuries, and more than 800,000 need to be treated at an emergency room or a hospital. If you are one of those unlucky people involved in a wreck, there are a few things you should do to protect yourself.
Actions to take at the scene of an accident
The first thing to do is to stay calm. Being in a car crash can be extremely disorienting. But if you aren’t severely injured, keeping a cool head is vital to your, and others’ well-being. Take these steps:
- Stop your vehicle: It is a legal obligation to stop at the scene of an accident, even if you don’t believe damage or injuries resulted.
- Check for injuries: Make sure you or any other parties did not sustain injuries that require emergency medical care. If anyone is hurt, call 911.
- Contact police: Once any injuries are assessed, call police even if it’s a fender bender as it’s critical to make sure there is a legal accident report.
- Don’t admit guilt: Even if you believe you may have caused the crash, don’t take responsibility. Remember, you will likely be confused after a wreck, and there may be financial repercussions later on.
- Don’t talk to the other party: Limit discussions about the crash to police, medical professionals and your insurance company.
- Document the scene: Using your smartphone, take pictures of the crash site, including different angles of the location as well as the damage to vehicles.
- Exchange information: Get the name of the other driver or drivers, their address, phone number and the name of their insurance company as well as the policy number.
Two essential steps if you are injured in a crash
Regardless of what you believe to be the severity of the injury, it is crucial that you receive medical care as soon as possible and give a thorough account of what you are feeling to a doctor. Some injuries that don’t seem serious at first can develop into permanent, long-lasting or even deadly conditions if left untreated. Failing to document those injuries from the start could jeopardize your case.
Finally, don’t communicate with the other party’s insurance company. Instead, direct them to your attorney. Insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests and will likely offer you a lowball settlement to protect their own bottom line. An experienced personal injury attorney will protect your rights to receive a favorable outcome.