Picture this: you're stopped at a stoplight and someone smashes into your car. You're startled, scared to death, and frozen with fear and panic for a few moments while you try to figure out what to do next. Are you okay? Are your passengers okay? What about your vehicle? How much damage is there?
Next thing you know the police show up, possibly an ambulance, and finally - a tow truck. When the dust finally settles, not only is your car a smashed-up mess, but now you also have ambulance expenses and medical bills to boot. What exactly are your options and how should you proceed?
First off, don't try to be a hero if you get injured in an accident. If the vehicle is not on fire and you don't have passengers – stay put for a minute or two and let your adrenaline rush calm down. Often times you may be injured and not even know it. Take a couple of big breaths and just be thankful you are alive.
Once you have assessed yourself and your passengers, before you even exit the vehicle - make sure you exit in a safe place. Countless motorists are injured and even killed every year because they were upset from a motor vehicle accident, and did not take the time to exit the vehicle in a safe manner. The same goes for your children or other passengers. Try to keep your wits about you and make sure your passengers and especially any children stay where they are. They will likely be more afraid than you are – and may need evaluated by a medical professional prior to even moving a single muscle. If the vehicle is not on fire or smoking, it may be best to leave them in their spot until the paramedics arrive and can evaluate them medically. Resist the temptation to fling open the car seat and yank them out and into your arms. They may be injured and the last thing you want to do is aggravate any possible injuries they may have.
If you are medically okay, and in a safe place, carefully exit the vehicle. Be careful to pay close attention to your surroundings as you do, as there may be broken glass shards and/or sharp metal pieces in your path. Also remember to be especially careful if the road conditions are slick and hazardous. Other drivers may lose control in the same spot you are – and their vehicle could come smashing into you or your automobile. Get off the road if possible, onto the sidewalk or grassy shoulder where you are less likely to get hurt if another motorist loses control.
Once you are out and in a safe place, shift your mind into information gathering mode. Grab your cell phone and take pictures of the other motorist's driver's license, their vehicle registration, and their insurance card if possible. Get their name, address, phone number, and email if you can. Also get plenty of photographs of both vehicles – on all sides. And make sure to take several photographs of the scene of the accident as well. Weather conditions, road conditions, the placement of signs and stop lights, etc., may play an important role, and so these images may very well come in handy later.
If there are any known witnesses, ask for their contact information, as well. Be cautious not to make any statements to the other driver other than to take down his or her insurance and contact information. And above all – do not admit any fault or liability to either the other driver or the police officer. Cooperate with the police officer, but only state the necessary facts of the accident.
Once the accident is over, take some time to decompress and try and get your bearings again. You may need to find a quiet place to sit and relax. It can be hours, days, or sometimes even months before an injury related to the auto accident reveals itself. During the time after the accident, pay attention to your body, and seek the appropriate medical treatment for you injury. Make absolute sure when you see the doctor, to tell him or her about the car accident, so that there will be record in your medical chart of the accident as a possible cause of your injury. Too many people have been upset when a court refused to compensate them for an injury they received as part of an auto accident, because they did not mention the accident to their healthcare provider. Be certain to make sure your doctor knows why you are injured.
Finally, after you call your insurance provider immediately after the wreck, contact Bowen & Associates for a free case evaluation. There are many aspects to a personal injury accident, and you need an experienced team to help you evaluate the situation. Did you endure pain and suffering as a result of the accident? Did you endure emotional distress? Did your medical injuries keep you from enjoying day-to-day activities? Did you miss work because of the accident? If the answer to any of the above is yes, you may be entitled to additional compensation if litigation is necessary.
Personal injury law is designed to protect you in instances such as this. At Bowen & Associates, we work very hard to determine what fair compensation should be for those who have suffered damages as a result of someone else's negligence. The American Bar Association has several informative articles discussing personal injury cases that you may find helpful.
Additionally, we invite you to call our office to speak with experienced counsel who can help you navigate the process of making sure you get all of the compensation you deserve. Our number is (317) 565-2221, and we offer a free case evaluation to help you make the correct decisions. Our knowledge, experience, and work ethic set us apart from other firms – we invite you to experience the difference for yourself.