With more than 6 million motor vehicle crashes occurring annually in the U.S. as a whole, it is no wonder that they are also the second leading cause of injuries. Speaking about the Sunset Land, nearly 130,000 motor vehicle accidents occur in Arizona every year alone, most of which result in property damage only.
Despite their common nature, accidents happen unexpectedly and can be caused by various factors that are often out of our control. Roadway challenges can range from a faulty tire, mechanical problem, paying attention to a navigation system, and distracted drivers to enduring challenges such as drunk drivers or inexperienced beginners.
It goes without saying that the situations mentioned above can, least of all, turn out to be very stressful. The uncertainty surrounding your physical, legal, and financial protection can be intimidating and often confusing, especially right after the initial shock of the collision.
Suppose you are involved in a car accident in Phoenix and are unsure how to proceed or protect yourself legally and financially. In that case, you should always reach out to a Phoenix car accident lawyer who can guide you through the process. However, before reaching out to your legal representative, there are many things you should do right after the accident, and this short guide is just about that.
Dealing with the aftermath of a car crash can be frightening and confusing, and chances are you will not know where to begin. For that reason, following the steps provided below can help you navigate through the process more efficiently and with a lot more confidence.
Check If Everyone Is Safe
After a crash, the first thing you should do is to check yourself and the other passengers involved for any potential injuries. Visible signs of injuries, such as bleeding, wounds, or unconsciousness, are the most obvious, but make sure you pay attention to harms that might not be visible straight away.
Be careful when stepping out of the vehicle, and check if anyone else needs help. Ask your passengers how they are feeling to assess the situation before you proceed to help them. If anyone appears to be confused or lightheaded, that might point to a head injury. Be especially cautious if you need to move an injured passenger – if they seem to have a neck or back injury refrain from moving them unless you absolutely have to.
Call 911 to report the incident and get the first responders dispatched to the scene faster. If anyone has sustained injuries, make sure you inform the dispatcher of the type and severity of the injuries to ensure the passengers are provided with appropriate medical care and assistance.
The appointed officers will also perform an investigation to determine the circumstances of the crash, the person at fault, and the involved passengers. Under Arizona law, the officers must respond to the scene and file the report within 24 hours of completing their investigation.
Remain at the scene until the dispatched services have arrived. Pay attention to your surroundings, and if you’re able to, move the vehicle out of the road to prevent other accidents. Before doing so, however, make sure you do not smell gas or oil – if you do, move as far away from the vehicle as possible. If you have to leave your car on the road, turn on your hazard lights to alert other cars driving by.
Gather Records Of The Accident
Law enforcement is obliged to include certain information in the police report, so it can be useful to gather this information before their arrival. The minimum requirements for a police report in Arizona are:
- The time and date of the accident.
- The location of the accident.
- Identifying information for all involved passengers.
- A description of the circumstances of the accident, along with a diagram of the scene.
- The appointed officer’s information.
Since the circumstances of the accident described in the report will examine the cause of the accident, it is especially useful to note the weather conditions at the time of the accident, and, if known, the driving speeds of the vehicles. You can also take pictures of the vehicles and any injuries to record damages – this can be especially useful when dealing with insurance claims or legal proceedings.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
Clauses concerning the time frame for filing an incident may vary from one insurance company to the other, but it is nonetheless important to notify your insurance provider of the accident as soon as possible. This will not only help your insurance provider handle the compensation for damages faster, but it will also protect you from legal or financial consequences.
You must be honest when speaking to the insurance company, but you should avoid making statements that make you appear at fault. If you decide to hire a lawyer, it is highly recommended that you let your lawyer speak to the insurance company on your behalf to avoid making mistakes or sharing false or incriminating information.
The insurance company will gather information about the other party involved in the accident, and this is where the information you collected about the other driver comes in handy. On that note, make sure that you have their insurance policy information available.
Hire A Car Accident Lawyer
If you find the settlement to be unsatisfactory, are blamed for an accident you didn’t cause, or simply wish to make the process easier for yourself, you can always hire a lawyer that specializes in car accidents. Getting assistance from a lawyer is especially useful if you are dealing with a car accident fatality, hefty damages, or if you cannot come to an understanding with the other party.
Car accidents, even for the most experienced drivers, are something we cannot fully protect ourselves against. Although very common, they almost always come unexpectedly and can be followed by a confusing or complicated legal process. However, becoming familiar with the appropriate steps to take after a car crash can help you deal with the situation calmly and more confidently, while also protecting yourself from any legal or financial damages.