Car accidents are incredibly common. If you drive regularly, there’s a good chance that you’ll encounter an accident at some point in time. Whether it’s a minor fender bender or a serious collision, there are still several steps that you’ll want to take in the event you’re in an accident. In this article, we’ll explain everything that you should do if you’re in an accident, as well as explain some of the common injuries that can arise.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been in a Car Accident?
Being in a car accident can be stressful and disorienting. Nevertheless, the time immediately after a car accident is the most crucial opportunity to gather information about the other vehicles and drivers involved and protect your interests. If you’re in an accident, it is important to follow these steps:
- Do not leave the scene of the accident: It is against the law and fleeing the scene can result in high penalties – especially in an individual has been injured. Remain at the scene until a police officer has told you it’s okay to go.
- Call the police: Even if there are no injuries and only minor damage, it is still in your best interest to inform the police. A police report can be a necessary tool in completing an insurance claim or even following up in court.
- Secure the accident scene: If you carry flares or emergency flashlights in your vehicle, use those and your hazard lights to protect yourselves from unaware drivers. This will help prevent additional accidents and also help keep you safe.
- Take pictures and make an accurate statement: Assuming you carry a smartphone or some kind of camera on you, this can be a handy tool to document the accident. Take pictures of the damage to both vehicles, the location of the cars where they landed, and any road or weather conditions that might’ve affected the accident. Any injuries should also be documented. You should also take this time to prepare a statement detailing your exact perspective of the accident.
- Collect or exchange information: It’s always a good idea to exchange the contact and insurance information of the other drivers involved, regardless of police involvement. Similarly, it is extremely helpful to collect statements from any potential witnesses as well as their contact information in case they need to be reached in the future.
- Report the accident to your insurance: Its best to notify your insurance carrier as soon as possible after an accident. Almost all policies require you to comply in a timely manner in order to submit a claim for an accident. Check with your insurance company to see if you have any additional benefits that could help you.
- Get Medical Attention: It’s not uncommon for drivers involved in an accident to start to feel their injuries later that day or even a few days after the accident. Whether or not you suspect that you have an injury, it’s in your best interests to get checked by a doctor and then report your injuries to your insurance company.
- Stay organized and contact an attorney: At some point, it might become necessary to contact an attorney. Make sure to keep any documents related to your accident in a separate folder to keep yourself organized and prepared.
What should you do after a car accident injury?
If you have sustained any kind of injury following a car accident, seeking medical help and treatment should be your priority. If you immediately notice your injuries, call emergency paramedics, or ask someone to call them for you. If your injuries begin to set in a day or two later, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor as soon as possible, or even drop in at an urgent care facility. When your doctor diagnoses your injuries, inform your insurance company, and stay compliant with any treatment plan the doctor gives you.
Should I go to the ER after a car accident or what kind of doctor should I see?
Depending on the severity of your injury, there are a few options to choose from. If your injury is severe and requires immediate medical attention, then the Emergency Room is the best option for you. The ER is equipped to treat life threatening and severely injuries. Emergency rooms are also typically open 24-hours a day and are often the best choice for patients in late-night accidents.
For injuries that are less severe but still require medical attention, an Urgent Care Clinic is the best option. Urgent care facilities are similar to a physician’s office and have limited hours but are less expensive to visit than an emergency room and usually do not require an appointment in advance. For any minor injuries or if you’re unsure whether or not you’re injured, you are usually well set just going through your normal Primary Care Physician. Any of these offices may refer you to a specialist in the event of a specific injury or surgery.
What are the side effects after a car accident?
There are a number of symptoms that drivers should be wary of after being in an accident. These can include headache, back pain, abdominal pain, neck/shoulder pain, and any numbness or bruising. Whiplash and concussions can cause a number of these symptoms, most commonly headache and neck or shoulder pain. Internal bleeding can be a cause of any discoloration or bruising, and can cause headache, weakness and dizziness. Back pain can be related to a number of serious problems, most commonly broken bones, sprains or herniated discs. Back injuries can also have a lot of nerve-related symptoms, which can cause numbness or tingling in limbs and extremities. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately.
How soon will I know if I have whiplash after a car accident?
The symptoms of whiplash do not always manifest themselves immediately after an accident. It may not become apparent that you are experiencing whiplash for a day, or even up to a week, after the accident. However, you will know that you might have whiplash if you are experiencing neck pain, low back pain, headaches, shoulder pain or stiffness in any of these areas.
How long do you have to see a doctor after an auto accident?
It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you think you might have been injured in an accident. If you want to seek compensation for your injury, you’ll have to file a claim within the statute of limitations, and you’ll have to have a diagnosis and treatment plan from your doctor before that period expires. Ensuring that you have a complete diagnosis from a licensed doctor as soon as possible can protect you from legal hiccups during this process.
How long after car accident can you claim injury?
Every state has a statute of limitations that starts running from the date of the accident. The amount of time varies from state to state. Your claim for injuries must be filed before that time period runs out. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for personal injury is two years. In other words, you have to make a claim for your injuries within two years of the date of the accident.
What is the average settlement for a car accident?
There is no perfect formula for predicting the amount of money in a car accident settlement. It is affected by a number of factors, including the extent of the injury, the amount of time spent treating, the amount of property damage, the amount of medical bills and whether or not the injury has any permanent side effects. On average, most settlements for car accident injuries are between $15,000 and $30,000.
Although there are a lot of hurdles to overcome when it comes to car accidents, the above tips and pointers should help you manage the situation. It’s best to remember that accidents can happen anywhere to anyone, no matter how cautious you might be.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.