There’s never a convenient time to be involved in a car accident. But we can all agree that one of the worst times for a car accident to occur is on vacation. It can quickly turn a week of relaxation into a nightmare scenario full of stress and pain.
6 Steps You Should Take
According to Driver Knowledge, there are an estimated 6 million car accidents in the United States each year. These accidents lead to nearly 3 million injuries each year, as well as 90 deaths per day. And while we’d like to think that we’re immune to car accidents when traveling or vacationing, that simply isn’t true. In many cases, the risk is higher as a result of being in unfamiliar locations.
If you’re ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in the middle of a car accident while traveling, it’s important that you take the proper steps to ensure the best possible outcome.
Here are several suggestions that experts recommend:
1. Check for Injuries
When a car accident occurs, there’s an initial moment or two of shock. As you come to your senses, you immediately notice any major injuries involving blood or broken bones. However, in many cases, other injuries and symptoms go unnoticed as a result of the adrenaline that courses through your body in the minutes and hours after the wreck.
Adrenaline is designed to increase your body’s pain threshold in order to help you protect yourself when there’s a threat. In other words, it can mask injuries – even serious ones! This means there’s a tendency to think everything is okay, even when you’ve suffered injuries to your head, neck, back, or extremities.
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you have to be very cognizant of the fact that a lack of blood doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of injuries. If you suspect you or anyone involved might have injuries that aren’t obvious, it’s a good idea to call EMS to the scene to check you over.
2. Contact the Proper Authorities
EMS should always be the first call if needed. After that, you’ll want to call law enforcement to the scene to get an accident report filed. And, depending on what vehicle you’re driving, there may be other parties to call. For example, if you’re traveling in a rental car, you’ll have to inform the rental car company about the accident. They’ll give you specific instructions on what to do.
In most cases, the company will arrange to get you a car replacement so that you can continue on your trip. And depending on the circumstances of your accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your troubles.
Note: You should never disclose information about the rental car to other drivers involved in the accident. If they know that you’re in a rental, they may try to take advantage of your company’s insurance plan.
3. Gather Evidence
The next step is to gather any evidence that you believe could be important in your case. Typically, this isn’t going to be physical evidence. Here are some examples of the kind of evidence that’s usually most powerful:
- Pictures and videos of the scene of the accident are always very helpful. You can snap pictures of the vehicles, the location where the accident occurred, tire skid marks, and even injuries.
- If there are any witnesses at the scene, grab their names and contact information.
- The brain is a funny thing. Even though you’re very alert right now, some of the details of the incident could become fuzzy as the days and weeks pass. This is why we suggest either writing or voice recording a note recapping exactly what happened from your point of view.
4. Hire an Attorney
Once you’re in stable condition and everything at the scene of the accident has been dealt with, you may find it helpful to contact a car accident lawyer like DozierLaw.com – even if you don’t think you need one. Car accident attorneys offer free initial consultations, which means you can share the details of the accident and they’ll let you know if they think you have a case.
If the facts of your accident give you a strong case, your decision to contact the lawyer right away is very important. The sooner an attorney becomes privy of the details of your case, the stronger of a case they can build.
5. Figure Out Travel Plans
The next step is to figure out your travel plans. If you were in a rented vehicle, the rental car company should provide a replacement vehicle. (This doesn’t mean there won’t be any charges or extra fees – especially if the accident was your fault – but they’ll generally help you get up and running again.)
If you were driving your own vehicle, you’ll either need to rent another vehicle or wait around until your vehicle is repaired. If you’re still within 50 or 60 miles of home and have a roadside service like AAA, you may be able to get your vehicle towed back to your home mechanic without any major costs.
6. Prepare for Negotiations
If there’s one thing auto insurance companies love, it’s lowball offers. It’s one of their favorite things to do. They’ll use every tactic in the book – including questioning your right to claim, downplaying the severity of injuries, and even arguing that past injuries or chronic issues are the real cause of your pain – just to slash the value of your claim. Prepare for tense and drawn-out negotiations.
This is why having a lawyer on your side is so important. Car accident lawyers can spot an insurance company’s tactics from a mile away. They’ll prevent you from accepting an offer that sounds good, but is really only worth 50 or 60 percent of what you’re owed.
Adding it All Up
Whether it’s a minor incident or a serious accident with significant medical and financial consequences, knowing the proper steps to take in the wake of an accident can help you make deliberate decisions that put you in the best position moving forward. Take these suggestions to heart and good luck!