In 2015 there were over 148,000 auto accidents in our state as reported by the State of Missouri Highway Patrol. You can see all the statisics by clicking here. Almost 54,000 of these included injuries. No, we are not trying to alarm you. Compared to the number of folks on the road and the number of trips people make, this is a relatively low number. In fact, a Fox Business News story claimed that for all the driving an average driver does, they would only be involved in 3 or 4 accidents in their lifetime (and not likely fatal) Read the article here.
However, we do want you to be prepared should you or someone you love be involved in an auto accident.
Here are some tips on what to do if you are involved in an auto accident and how to protect your right to a claim:
1. Stay as calm as possible and be safe. Do not exit the vehicle if you are in a congested area until you are sure traffic has stopped around you. Exit the side of the vehicle away from traffic. If you need to remain in the vehicle, keep your seat belt fastened at all times until help comes and insures your safe exit from the vehicle.
2. Call for Help. Call 911 for any injuries you suspect. If someone seems injured but claims to be fine, insist on calling for an ambulance unless they say they will refuse treatment.
Call Police even if an ambulance is not needed. A police report carries significant weight when it comes to insurance companies and legal cases. Oftentimes, the party responsible will try to keep police out of the situation. Do not listen to them; call the authorities. The police report will help you collect important details from the other people involved. Your copy of the police report will include names and contact information for those involved, the witnesses at the site, and more.
3. Do not move the vehicles unless it is a minor fender bender with no injuries. Progressive insurance company states the following on their website: "If you're involved in a minor fender bender, such as another car rear-ending you or a car changing lanes into you, it's probably best to move your cars out of traffic after verifying no one is hurt." In fact, several states have signs along major highways that advise you to move your car off the road after a minor accident. However, they go on to say, "If someone is hurt in an accident, or if a vehicle can't be driven afterward, leave your vehicles where they are — even if they're blocking traffic. Call for help as soon as possible." Read more from Progressive about moving vehicles in an accident.
4. Do not admit any fault in the accident. You can explain what happened to the police officer making the official report. Be honest, but you do not need to admit responsibility. There may have been things you missed when the accident happened which could result in your not being at fault even if you assume you could be.
5. Take photos. Most all of us have smart phones with cameras. Use it to safely take photos of the accident scene. Take photos of the vehicles involved. Take photos of the surrounding area (intersections, traffic lights, road signage etc.). Anything that can later help explain what happened should be photographed.
6. Talk to witnesses. Get contact information of witnesses. This should be included in the police report, but hearing their version of what they saw will help you, should you need confirmation of your story.
7. Get repair estimates for any property damage.
Insurance companies will likely get an independent estimate, but get two or three from businesses you trust. That way you can be sure you are getting the repairs necessary to get your car back into the shape it was in before the accident.
8. Keep medical bills, treatment records, and doctor’s notes.
These are the best evidences of the injuries you have sustained and how long it will take for you to get back onto your feet and working again. Be sure to follow the doctor’s orders to a ‘T’. If a claims attorney finds an angle to say you have exaggerated your condition, they won’t hesitate to use it and deny your claim.
If you are injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to be compensated for your injury, property damage, and lost wages. The attorneys at the law office of David M. Lowe have been successfully protecting the rights of the injured for more than two decades and are ready to negotiate your car accident case.
We encourage you to print or share this article and discuss with those you love, especially new and younger drivers.
You can download our free resource below, which can be printed and placed in your vehicle glovebox with your registration and insurance information. We hope you never need it; but if you do, we believe it will be very helpful.
Download this PDF and print front and back on the same page, tri-fold, and place in glovebox for a quick easy to read guide in case you or those you love are involved in an accident.
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What happens if I get pulled over and I've been drinking?
Most people know that if they are pulled over in the state of Missouri and have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 or higher, you will be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI).
There are many important factors to keep in mind if you have been pulled over and have been drinking. When you are pulled over by a police officer, the officer will use many different techniques to attempt to determine if you are impaired by alcohol. First, the officer will ask you guilt seeking questions. These questions usually are seeking admissions from you regarding your prior alcohol consumption and will be used by the officer to establish a basis to conduct more tests or to arrest you. You have the right to remain silent and you should not answer these questions. Remember, the Constitution provides citizens many protections including the right to be free from self-incrimination.
Once the police officer establishes reasonable suspicion that you have been operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the officer will likely have you perform one or more field sobriety tests, such as standing on one foot or walking a straight line, stopping, and walking back. You may have medical conditions that impair your ability to perform these tests even under ideal conditions. The side of the road often has trash, rocks, potholes and other debris that can hamper anyone’s ability to perform these tests. You may decline to perform these tests explaining you believe these tests are subjective.
If you do perform these tests and perform poorly, you may be placed under arrest for suspicion of committing DWI and be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. Prior to doing so, you have a 20 minute time period to contact an attorney. If you refuse to submit to the breathalyzer test, your driving privileges may be revoked for one year unless you petition the court within 30 days from the date of your alleged refusal and successfully challenge the alleged refusal and arrest.
If you submit to the breathalyzer test and your BAC level is .08 or higher, you will be charged with DWI and your driving privileges be suspended unless you request an administrative hearing within 15 days of your arrest. If you are under 21 and you will be charged with DWI if your BAC is .02 or higher. You may also be charged if the officer believes there is enough evidence to prove your driving was impaired by alcohol even if your BAC level is not more than .08. You may also be charged with DWI if you operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance or drugs regardless of your BAC level.
The severity of your punishment will depend on many factors, such as prior DWI history, but a first offense under Missouri law has a maximum punishment of up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $500, suspension of your driving privileges for 90 days if you provide a breath sample, and revocation of your driving privileges for one year if you refuse to take the breathalyzer test.
A second offense under Missouri law has a maximum punishment of up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, revocation of your driving privileges up to one year if convicted (or five years if convicted of the second offense within five years of the previous offense), and installation of an ignition interlock device (which prevents the car from starting unless the driver's BAC is below a certain limit). A third offense under Missouri law has a minimum of 30 days in jail, a range of punishment from two to four years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, revocation of your driving privileges for 10 years along with other adverse consequences.
Being charged with DWI is a serious offense that has long-term consequences. An arrest for DWI or any criminal offense is a stressful time in a person’s life. Selecting the right defense attorney could determine the long-term damage to your reputation and whether you are sentenced to severe punishments, such as jail time, substantial fines, and a criminal record. At the time of your arrest, you have the right to an attorney. You should take advantage of this right and contact the office of David M. Lowe, Attorney at Law who will help you understand your rights and the legal consequences of these offenses. The attorneys at the law firm of David M. Lowe have the knowledge and extensive trial experience to get you the results you deserve. You may contact them for your free initial consultation at 573-774-3122.
CONTACT US: To schedule your free legal consultation, call 573-774-3122 or email us at email@example.com.
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