What to do After a Car Accident
Car accidents are terribly common. Yet, they have a tendency to come right out of the blue. You can't really anticipate them and they often bring a lot of complications.
It is however important to understand that if you have been injured in an auto accident due to the fault of the other driver, you may have a right to compensation. There are many things you must do to secure this right though. If you fail to act as you should, you run the risk of losing your right to fair compensation.
This guide explains everything you need to know, and how to handle yourself after an auto accident.
First acts after a car accident
The first moments after a car accident can be disorienting. You're hardly to blame for feeling frustrated, angry, scared or tired. It's perfectly understandable that all you want to do is pick yourself up and go home.
But the immediate aftermath of an auto accident is also the most important period to any hopes you have of a claim for compensation. What you do at this point may determine whether you get a positive outcome to your claim or not.
There are several steps that you need to take. These are required by law and the need to secure your claim. Here's what you need to do:
Remain at the scene
Whatever you do, don't drive off after the accident. Persons involved in a car accident are legally required to remain at the scene and exchange information with other drivers similarly involved.
If you leave the scene before you exchange information, you may be liable to sanction. It may also dent your story, especially if you assert that you were not at fault for the accident.
If you are able, you should also do what you can to prevent further pileups caused by the scene. You can do this by erecting signals to warn oncoming traffic or moving your vehicle off the road.
It is also important that you provide reasonable assistance to any injured person. This may mean you have to call 911 and get injured persons the necessary medical care.
Information required by law
If you're a driver of an automobile involved in a car accident, the Washington motor vehicle code requires that give your info to the other persons involved in the accident. Relevant info may include your name, address, and the registration number of your vehicle. Upon request, you must also present your driver's license to any other party involved.
If there's a collision with an unattended vehicle, you are obligated to also find the owner and exchange relevant info with them. If the owner cannot be immediately located, you have to leave a written address behind for them.
Be wary of providing more information than necessarily required of you. This advice is even more important when it comes to facts of the accident. Regardless of what you think happened, do not admit partial or total fault for the auto accident. This is because later investigation may reveal the contrary.
It will also help your claim if you can get the name and addresses of a few witnesses to a car accident. They may help your case if a dispute arises as to the true facts of the accident.
If you can, it will also be beneficial to gather evidence from the scene. Photographs – or even videos – of the accident will help put the facts in a ‘permanent' form. You can take pictures of the damage done to cars, skid marks, and the environment of a car accident.
Get medical help
Immediately after a car accident, consult a medical personnel or physician for medical treatment. Even if you do not feel injured, make sure you get looked over by a doctor. Also request a medical report after they attend to you. This will be handy when you want to file your compensation claim later.
The report will show the fact and severity of your interest juries. It will also be a useful way to document how much you suffered due to the accident and what your medical treatment cost.
File a car accident report
The accident report laws of Washington makes it a duty for you to file a report after an auto accident. If your car accident results in injury or death to any person or damage to property, you have to report it to the relevant law enforcement authority in your area.
This is for instances where a law enforcement officer wasn't available at the scene. If there was a law enforcement officer at the scene, you will not be required to file a report since the officer would do this.
What Are Your Rights in a Car Accident?
Not knowing your rights in the event of a car accident will put you at a disadvantage. Unfortunately, this is common among a lot of accident victims. Many do not know of their right to compensation for injuries sustained in an accident caused by another.
If you are not certain of your rights, it is better to consult a skilled attorney before you do or say anything. Don't be fooled when the at fault party says there's no need to contact a lawyer since the accident is minor. More often than not, assurances that they will compensate you are quickly reversed.
You need to contact an attorney immediately, before you admit liability or agreed to a settlement of any form.
What compensation can you get?
Depending on who is at fault in a car accident, you may be able to get compensation for the injuries suffered. If you file a personal injury claim, you can be compensated for the damage to your car or property, for medical bills, pain and suffering, and even lost wages.
If the auto accident results in the death of a victim, the family of the deceased may also be able to recover damages.
What if you're partially at fault in a car accident?
Determining the liable party in a car accident is an important task. The negligent or ‘blameable' party, depending on the extent of their liability, will bear the brunt of the liability.
However, in a car accident, there may be more than one party to be held accountable. Apart from this, in some situations, a victim of an auto accident may also have done a few things that ‘contributed' to the events that led to the accident. In some jurisdictions, once it can be established that a victim also shares blame for the accident, the personal injury claim fails.
Unlike in those jurisdictions though, Washington is a ‘comparative negligence' state. What this means here is that any person ‘at fault' in the auto accident will be held liable for the injuries suffered by the ‘victim'. However, if the ‘victim' also shares some negligence, the court will apportion compensation based on ‘percentage of fault'.
The Next Line of Action
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation. Your chances of a successful year will however depend on whether you have a skilled Tacoma car accident attorney looking after your interests.