According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), car accidents in the U.S. in 2018 numbered about 6.7 million, by far the highest for this type of vehicle involved in accidents. This amounts to about 13 accidents per minute throughout the U.S. This means that every minute at least 26 people will be involved in sorting out issues related to car accidents, including paperwork.
Yes! There is paperwork and some duties to be performed by people involved in accidents. If you are involved in an accident, it is a serious affair and there are certain necessary things you must do. Here are 3 things that you must do first when you are injured in a car accident.
1. Look to the safety of injured persons
The safety of people involved in the car accident, and people indirectly hurt by the accident, is paramount and that is the first thing you have to do – attend to injured persons. Failure to do so can result in a serious personal injury case being brought against you. Therefore, you should enlist the services of bystanders and provide immediate first-aid to yourself and other injured persons. If you detect serious injury, gather information about the place where the accident occurred, the number of people injured, the nature of injuries and the type of vehicles involved and then call 911. Once this is arranged, you can try to move the vehicles involved in the accident to a safe spot and await the arrival of the police and the ambulance.
Be careful that you don’t flee the scene of an accident. This would amount to a hit-and-run and the police will build a hit-and-run case against you, based on information gathered from the other party involved in the accident and from witnesses to the accident.
You can learn about accident reporting in each state here.
2. Keep records
Remember, you are involved in an accident and you should call it just that, without attributing blame on anyone. Record the accident by narrating how it happened and stick to this version whenever you speak to anyone in authority, such as the police and the insurance company. Exchange information with the other person involved in the accident. The information you exchange should include driver’s name, driver’s license number, vehicle’s VIN, year of manufacture, color, model, make, license plate number, insurance company and policy number and contact details of all concerned.
In today’s technological age you should have your mobile phone with camera facilities. You can take still photos and videos of the situation after the accident, especially the position of vehicles after the accident and the areas where damage has occurred. Try to find witnesses and take their statements or even better record them on audio or video format.
After you are reasonably recovered from the accident, you can start formalizing the process of reporting on the accident. You can call the police and your insurance company. If your injuries are serious and you need to be treated at the hospital, you can call your attorney and request his assistance to take the next steps. This is a critical part of the accident reporting process. Do not discuss anything with the other person involved in the accident, other than collecting factual information. Other than the police and your insurance company do not talk to anyone else.
The formalization process also includes recording details of your injuries and treatments and the expenses incurred thereof.
Conduct a review of all the information you have gathered and collect any other information you may have missed.
As mentioned earlier, your first priority is the safety of the people involved in the accident. Next is the collection of information and third is the reporting to the concerned authorities such as the police and the insurance company. You have to remember that an accident has to be reported, otherwise you would be liable to be charged under various provisions of the law.