Accidents and you

Accidents and you

Being involved in a collision has become a fact of life in our motor-vehicle oriented society.

In 2015, there were more than 116,000 motor-vehicle crashes in Arizona, resulting in more than 30,000 injuries. This was an increase over the prior year.

Nearly three out of four collisions occurred in daylight hours. Every day that we are on the road, either in an automobile, on a motorcycle, or even as a pedestrian, includes a risk that we will become a witness to or a participant in an accident.

Here are some tips on what to do at the scene of a crash, if you are unfortunate enough to be involved.

You should not discuss the collision with anyone at the scene, except the investigating police officers. Tell the officer the basic facts that you observed, so that an accurate report can be prepared.

At the scene of a collision, people are frequently upset and sometimes mistakenly blame themselves. Even if you believe that you may have been responsible, it is best not to admit liability. Investigation may reveal that someone else was to blame. In serious injury cases, you should consult an attorney before making any statements.

If the collision is minor, and there do not appear to be any injuries, it is often best to move the vehicles out of the roadway to avoid a secondary collision and a serious injury. If the vehicle cannot be moved, remain in the vehicle with your seatbelt on, and your hazard lights activated. Keep in mind that if you decide to handle the damage to your car on your own directly with the other driver, and without the involvement of an insurance company, you may end up having difficulty collecting.

Notify the police immediately after the crash takes place. The law requires that all collisions be reported, and the official report may prove to be helpful in the future.

Advise the police if there are any injuries, so that they may notify paramedics. Do not move any injured people unless you have medical training.

It is best that you not tell anyone at the scene of the collision that you were not injured. Very serious injuries may not show up for several hours or even days.

Obtain the other driver’s name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number and vehicle registration number. Also, obtain names and addresses of any witnesses.

If possible, take photographs of the scene and of the other vehicles, with your cellphone. If the area is under construction, or if there is a defect in the roadway (e.g. potholes or damaged pavement), take photos of the location, as well, as the conditions will change quickly.

Do not leave the scene of the collision until authorized by the police unless your injuries require you to do so. As soon as possible, make a complete report to your own insurance company. Failure to make a prompt and correct report may affect your rights. Even if you are not taken to the hospital by an ambulance, you should seek an immediate evaluation from a qualified health care provider who can determine the extent of any injuries you may have suffered and recommend a course of treatment, if necessary.

If you are cited for the collision, be sure to respond to the citation and contact the court in a timely manner. Don’t jeopardize your license by failing to appear as required.

Know what your insurance policy covers. Don’t wait for a collision to occur to learn what coverages you have. Schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney familiar with these issues, or with an insurance agent in advance to confirm that you have the best insurance coverage that you can afford to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of a crash.

Time is critical. After a collision, consult with a personal-injury attorney immediately. If you are unable to contact an attorney personally, have a friend or family member do it for you. Crucial evidence and/or testimony necessary for the proper presentation of your claim must be discovered and gathered as soon as possible. As time passes, physical evidence disappears, memories fade and people move.

Steven A. Cohen, an attorney practicing in Scottsdale with Nussbaum Gillis and Dinner, is a specialist in injury and wrongful-death litigation and handles automobile, motorcycle and trucking collision claims. He can be reached at 602-677-3216 or steven@cohenlawgrp.com.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice. If you have any questions regarding the topics discussed in this article, you are advised to contact an attorney.