In recent years there were over 148,000 auto accidents per year 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 three 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.