With all attention now focused on deaths related to COVID-19 and the pandemic, it’s important to realize the risk Americans take simply by driving their vehicles on the roadway. In 2018, traffic accidents caused over 30,000 deaths in our country and countless more significant and debilitating injuries.
We at RGRP have handled hundreds if not thousands of motor vehicle accident litigations and can confidently say that the risk of you or a loved one being involved in an MVA are significantly greater than contracting COVID-19 and maybe even the common flu. But unfortunately, most of the general public is ill prepared for an accident and don’t know what to do at the scene of an accident or in the critical few hours or days after an accident has occurred.
We would like to give our readers some tips about how to handle immediate post accident concerns.
If you involved in a collision either as a passenger or driver the first recommendation is that you stay in your vehicle. Movement of your body after an accident can worsen the injury or threaten injury because many injuries, especially those to the neck and back, recover best with limited exertion of movement during the acute phase of injury. In that regard, if you believe there is even the slightest possibility of having sustained an injury, do not decline medical assistance at the scene. Insurance companies presume that the rejection of medical at the scene is tantamount to no or limited injury and in many states that use a “ No-Fault “ rule of reimbursement, this can significantly impair your ability to collect compensation for physical damage to your person.
Always summon police to the scene to have the incident reported and to facilitate the exchange of information concerning all drivers and vehicles involved including information about the driver’s record and the vehicles’ applicable insurance. The shock of an accident will likely impair your ability to effectively retrieve this information. For example, you may not realize that an insurance card is expired and go on to presume you know what company insures the vehicle that struck you, only to learn later you were wrong and time periods may have expired to preserve your claim for various benefits.
Never entertain a fault discussion with other drivers. Accident fault perception is very often inaccurate on scene. Too many variables such as speed, direction, traffic conditions, roadway conditions, lane markings, traffic control devices truly need to be sorted out before a reasoned determination of fault can be made. But drives who admit fault at the scene often dig an insurmountable hole for themselves.
Stay belted and in place after any collision. The failure to use your seatbelt can and will be used against you so stay belted until police arrive and document your appropriate use.
Do not give hospital billing coordinators your major medical information. Vehicle insurance is what pays the medical bills and letting the hospital bill your major medical provider will likely create a lien on your accident litigation recovery.
Finally, drive prudently yet confidently. Keep your up to date vehicle registration and insurance card in your glove box so it is readily available and producible should an accident occur. Keep your eyes and ears on the road at all times.