4 Things You Need to Do if You’ve Been in a Car Crash
In 2012, there were 7054 car collisions in the municipality of Anchorage alone. Getting into a car crash is always disorienting, regardless of the severity. Because of the trauma, your state of mind immediately following an collision may be compromised. In fact, many people are too shaken up to make smart decisions and act in their best interest after a crash.
With that in mind, we’ve created a simplified list of four things you need to do if you’ve been in a motor vehicle collision. These things should be done not only to address any potential injuries, but to make sure that any evidence is documented in case a lawsuit arises after the event.
1. Stay and Assess
First, never leave the scene of an crash. You could face fines, jail time, or even lose your license. It’s best not to move your vehicle unless directed to do so by the authorities or it becomes an issue of safety. Check yourself for any injuries and make sure you are safe, and then check the other people involved in the crash for injuries. Often, the body’s response to an extreme situation prevents individuals from feeling the full extent of their injuries until later, so if there is even the slightest concern, it’s best to call for medical assistance. Don’t ignore pain, however slight. Your injuries may be more serious than you realize. If you don’t get medical assistance as soon as possible, it may negatively affect your recovery—and your ability to receive compensation for those injuries during a settlement or if your case goes to court
2. Call the police
Once any immediate risks to your safety and your injuries have been addressed, make sure to call the police. This action creates an official document—a crash report—that will be invaluable if the case ends up going to court and a settlement cannot be reached.
3. Exchange Information and Document the Scene
Alaska law requires the operator of a vehicle involved in a car crash where there is injury to give information and render assistance. While you wait for the police to arrive (or once they get there), the following information should be shared among all parties involved:
- Name and address
- Vehicle license number
- Contact information
- Driver’s license number
- Any and all insurance information
If the other individual(s) involved in the motor vehicle crash have little or no insurance, make sure to note this. Alaska law requires that the owner of a motor vehicle subject to registration has a liability insurance policy covering a minimum amount of $50,000 for bodily injury or death and $25,000 for property damage.
Additionally, you’ll want to write down the make and model of any cars involved and take photos of your injuries, damage to the vehicle(s), and the surrounding scene of the incident with your phone or camera. Often overlooked are taking photographs of the small injuries such as bruises, minor cuts or abrasions, which can disappear quickly. Make sure those are documented as well. If there are any witnesses, or anyone who comes to your assistance, make sure you also get their names and contact information as well, such as phone number and/or e-mail address.
4. Don’t Talk About It
Immediate health and safety concerns have been addressed, the police called, and necessary information exchanged. Now, you need to assume that a personal injury claim could arise from this situation. Don’t talk about what happened with anyone besides honestly answering the questions asked by the police. Stick to the basics, and don’t try to make polite conversation with the other driver. It’s also important to refrain from describing or discussing your experience on social media outlets—like Facebook. All these things can have extremely negative effects on a potential lawsuit, even if you weren’t even at fault! Keep calm, stay quiet, and seek out the experience of a reputable personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
The Law Office of William D. Cook has extensive experience in dealing with motor vehicle collisions and the injuries that can result. We can help you strategically deal with the insurance forms you will be required to file and other complex legal issues that could be involved in your personal injury claim. We offer no-fee consultations, and we can even come to your location to discuss your potential claim. Remember, the five most dangerous words when involved in a car crash are “maybe it will go away.” It won’t, and you need to make sure you contact an attorney as soon as possible to receive the compensation you are owed. You are entitled not to just expenses incurred, pain and anguish and/or deformity as a result of the car crash, but future losses of income including wages, and loss of enjoyment of life. Please contact our office at (907) 694-2000 or fill out our free case review form to start the process today.
Alaska Statute 28.35.060: Duty of operator to give information and render assistance. (2008). Alaska Resource Center. Retrieved from http://touchngo.com/lglcntr/akstats/Statutes/Title28/Chapter35/Section060.htm
Municipality of Anchorage. (2012). Collision analyses. Municipality of Anchorage. Retrieved from http://www.muni.org/Departments/works/traffic/Documents/2012_AR_Collision_Analyses.pdf
State of Alaska. (2015). Mandatory insurance. Department of Administration Division of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved from http://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/faq/manins.htm