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Acting responsibly in the moments following an accident is critical for protecting yourself legally down the road. By taking the appropriate actions, you initiate the claims process to cover vehicle repairs, medical bills, and other costs associated with the crash.

This guide outlines the essential steps to take if you strike another vehicle with your car. It will examine stopping procedures, handling injuries, interacting with law enforcement, documenting critical incident facts, working with insurance adjusters, and retaining legal counsel.

Securing the Accident Scene

The seconds immediately following a crash require quick thinking and action to stabilize the situation before proceeding with accident response protocols. Here are the first set of actions to take:

  • Stop Immediately – If your vehicle is still operable following the collision, carefully pull over to the nearest safe location out of traffic lanes. Hazard lights should be activated to alert other drivers of the hazardous situation. Avoid exacerbating damage or injuries by choosing a solid, stable surface when stopping.
  • Mitigate Further Damage – Once pulled over, put your vehicle transmission in park and engage the parking brake. For manual transmissions, engage the brakes and put in first or reverse gear for added stability. If any vehicle fluids are leaking on hot engine areas, attempt to reposition cars further apart.
  • Call 911 If Needed – If any injury appears life-threatening including falls, head trauma, unconsciousness, or uncontrolled bleeding, call emergency services immediately. Provide dispatchers with a detailed incident report so paramedics arrive equipped to triage effectively.
  • Set Out Cones/Flares – To prevent secondary accidents in high-traffic areas, set out roadside cones or flares to alert oncoming vehicles of accident scene hazards.

By taking emergency precautions upfront, you reduce the risk of personal harm and establish a controlled area for accident response personnel to provide medical care and conduct their investigation safely.

Injury Care and Assessment

Once the post-accident scene is secured, promptly check for any passenger injuries in your vehicle or the other car involved. Provide the following tiered medical response:

  • Visible Bleeding – For uncontrolled bleeding or heavily stained clothing, immediately apply direct pressure with a cloth covering to slow blood loss before paramedics arrive. Victims appearing in shock should be kept warm but not moved.
  • Impaired Consciousness – If any vehicle occupants lost consciousness due to collision forces, the head and neck must be stabilized in neutral alignment until emergency medical technicians can fully immobilize victims. Do not attempt to move unconscious victims under any circumstances.
  • Bone Fractures – Carefully inspect vehicle occupants for limb or joint deformity indicating fractures. Splint severely misaligned extremities using cardboard or cloth strips to prevent detached bone fragment movement. Expect swelling even if fractures are not obvious initially.
  • Minor Cuts/Bruises – Clean open wounds with bottled water, and cover with clean cloth or bandages to reduce infection risk. Superficial face and head abrasions may bleed heavily – apply direct pressure here as well. Move victims with minor scratches away from roadways and accident debris.

Without formal emergency responder training, do not attempt to extricate trapped victims or administer anything by mouth if they are not fully alert. Stay with injured parties to monitor changes in visible symptoms until an ambulance arrives.

Police Notification and Documentation

After addressing medical issues, proper documentation of exactly what transpired is a key step to legally protecting yourself. Here are documentation best practices:

  • File a Police Report – For any collision causing moderate vehicle damage, injury, or substantial monetary losses, a formal police report must be filed by calling 911. Provide specifics on accident location, number of vehicles, and apparent damage extent to dispatch county sheriffs promptly.
  • Photograph Damage – While waiting for law enforcement to cordon off the scene, photograph all vehicle damage up close from multiple angles, including dents, scrapes, bumper misalignment, and broken glass or body panels. Wider shots documenting final vehicle rest positions are helpful as well.
  • Record Witness Accounts – If other motorists or pedestrians observed the collision firsthand, obtain their contact information including names, phone numbers, and addresses. Take written statements summarizing what they saw regarding vehicle speeds, traffic light status, and driving behaviors for both parties’ insurance investigations.
  • Organize Paperwork – To relay your account to law enforcement, have license, registration, and insurance cards accessible. Ensure copies of accident photographs, witness statements with contact info, and your detailed collision notes are available to show officers upon request.

By fully complying with authorities conducting traffic accident investigations, you establish credibility regarding your version of contributing factors while fault is being determined between parties. Having reliable eyewitnesses and photographs also strengthens evidence supporting your innocence.

Information Exchange and Notification

Before both vehicles can be safely removed from the scene, conduct these essential administrative steps:

  • Exchange Driver Details – Share your name, residential address, phone number, driver’s license number, and current auto insurance details with the other driver. Obtain their identical information in writing for your records as well.
  • Document Vehicle Identifiers – Note the exact make, model year, color, license plate, and VIN of all vehicles involved. Capture the same vehicle specifics within your photograph collection from multiple angles.
  • Call Insurer Notification – Phone your insurance provider immediately to place them on notice of your accident claim. Provide all pertinent documentation and details available thus far so the claims adjustment process initiated quickly to cover time-sensitive treatments and repairs.

By collecting comprehensive evidence information and contacting carriers right away, mishaps involving denying or delaying liability coverage can be minimized later on.

Seeking Medical Attention

Even if initial accident injuries seem trivial, delayed symptoms like whiplash, concussions, and internal bleeding can arise Hours or days later. Here is what to do next:

  • Get Checked Out – Make a follow-up appointment to have a physician conduct X-rays, MRI exams, and diagnostic tests determining the full scope of collision-related injuries requiring care.
  • Accept Ambulance Transport – At the scene, take EMS staff recommendations to allow ambulance transportation to ERs for assessment of the head, spine, or internal injuries not visible. Adrenaline can mask serious health issues immediately after crashes.
  • Describe All Pains – Document soreness, stiffness, swelling, cuts, headache, or any discomforts emerging post-accident to injury claims adjusters. Even if discomforts fade, reporting them establishes evidence for compensation if chronic issues resurface later.

Remember, just because you hit another car does not make you automatically at fault. The hit driver may be at fault, and whenever this is the case, skipping medical evaluations altogether frequently leads to losing out on recovery that personal injury lawsuits could secure otherwise. View post-accident health screening as having your day-in-court documentation on record long before attorneys get involved.

Hiring Legal Representation

In the weeks following minor accidents, health complications, and auto repair bills can spiral quickly out of control. At-fault drivers’ insurance companies quickly act to limit claim settlements within hours after collisions. And so having experienced personal injury lawyers on your side levels the playing field.

Even in circumstances where it appears you are the one at fault, do not hesitate to seek legal help. A lawyer can help you avoid making common mistakes. They can easily gather evidence to either prove your innocence or at least mitigate your liability. They can also be instrumental in shielding you from the financial burden that often comes with accidents – by either proving that you were not responsible or by ensuring that your insurance covers any financial responsibility that may arise as a result of the accident.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one were involved in an accident involving a car, contact us at (713) 804-8149 for a FREE case review today. There are no upfront retainers or fees to get experienced legal guidance regarding your options. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day – call now to protect your rights!

 

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Husain Law Firm

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