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According to the National Safety Council, 2015 saw one of the largest annual increases in U.S. traffic accident injuries and deaths in half a century. In total, an estimated 4.4 million were injured (2.3 million were serious injuries) and another 38,300 were killed. A number of factors are thought to be responsible, but all drivers are being encouraged to know how to accurately respond if and when they experience an accident. The following information can help you know what steps to take – and what not to do – if you are involved in an automobile accident.
Stay Calm and Check for Injuries
An accident is bound to shake you up, but it is important that you stay as calm as possible in the aftermath. You need to ensure that you are safe, that you are not seriously injured, and that the driver and passengers of the other vehicle have not been seriously injured. If you do, in fact, find that someone has been injured, do not move them (unless not moving them puts them in more danger) and immediately call 911. Stay with them, try to stop any bleeding if you can, and attempt to keep them calm. If you are the one injured, do not move unless you have to and, again, call 911.
Collect and Exchange Information
As long as no one is severely injured, you can proceed with the collection of information. Avoid apologizing, and do not try to explain or reason what might have happened as you do this. This can be seen as an admission of guilt. Instead, simply collect information about the other driver (license plate number, driver’s license number, car make and model, name, phone numbers, address, and insurance policy information) and any witnesses that may have seen the accident (names, addresses, and phone numbers). If police respond to the accident (you should notify them of it once you know everyone is okay), ask for a copy of the police report as well. You should also take photographs of the scene of the accident and any damage to your vehicle.
Seek Medical Attention
Once you have finished collecting information and are no longer in immediate danger, it is important to seek medical help. This is true, even if you do not suspect that you have any injuries since, often, adrenaline can mask injuries. Furthermore, you will need documentation (your medical records), should an injury become evident in the days or weeks after the accident. Also, make sure that you retain any receipts for gas, prescriptions, copays, and other medical expenses.
Although you can simply file a claim through the insurance company, it is highly discouraged to pursue a claim on your own. This is especially important if you sustained any injuries in the crash. Insurance companies, who are in the business of making money, will do anything they can to reduce your payout. If given even half the chance, they may even try to completely deny your accident claim.
Our DuPage County personal injury attorneys have the skills and knowledge needed to effectively represent you in your claim. We will protect your rights and aggressively pursue full and fair compensation for your injuries. Discuss your case by scheduling your free initial consultation with Martoccio & Martoccio today.