Being hurt in an auto accident is a stressful experience. Not only are you injured, but you also may be unsure of what to do in the minutes, hours, and days after it occurs. It can be especially hectic and confusing if the other driver is blaming you for the crash or if you’re unsure of what happened in the moments leading up to the collision.
All of those factors can be compounded when a crash occurs while you’re away from home. Unfortunately, thousands of crashes occur during December and around Christmas as families travel hundreds or even thousands of miles from home to visit loved ones. Traveling for the holidays is stressful enough already, and when a crash occurs, it can be overwhelming.
Here’s what to do if you’re involved in an accident while traveling out of state this Christmas season.
No matter where you are in the U.S., you’re required to report any crash that resulted in property damage or injuries to the police. Calling 911 not only dispatches a police officer to the crash scene who can file an accident report, but it also dispatches emergency medical responders who can treat you, your loved ones, and other victims if needed.
After calling 911, remain at the crash scene until a police officer arrives. If you leave before that, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Answer the police officer’s questions as truthfully as you can, but never admit fault, as this can jeopardize your chances of receiving compensation.
Auto accident injuries are often immediately apparent, but not always. Whether you know you’re injured or not, you need to get checked out by a doctor right away. Emergency medical responders can evaluate you and your loved ones at the scene and treat injuries that need immediate care, but you still need to visit a doctor for a full check-up.
Whether you ride to the hospital in an ambulance or arrange your own transportation later, it’s important to go as soon as possible. If you wait even a single day to get treatment, your injuries may worsen and the strength of your claim may be reduced.
If you or someone in your party can do so, get the name, phone number, email address, driver’s license number, and insurance information from the other driver or drivers involved in the crash. Getting contact information from witnesses can also be helpful.
When speaking with the other driver, stick to the facts of what happened, just as you did with the police officer. Don’t speculate on what might have caused the crash, apologize for the accident, or admit fault. These statements can be used against you by the insurance company to deny you compensation.
Even if you weren’t at fault for your accident, you still need to report it to your auto insurance provider. The deadline for this is usually just a matter of days after a crash occurs. If you don’t report the crash, you could face increased premiums and be denied compensation if you need to recover from your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.
When speaking to the police officer and the other driver, be careful with what you say about the crash. Any statement that might be construed as an admission of guilt will probably be used against you if you need to recover compensation from your policy.
Different states handle auto accident claims differently. Alabama is one of the few states in the U.S. that uses contributory negligence for rewarding compensation after crashes. But most states in America use comparative negligence, which means that you can still get reduced compensation if you’re less than 51% at fault for your crash.
At Vance Law Firm, our Montgomery car accident attorneys can prepare a strong case to help you get full compensation for your crash regardless of where it happened in the U.S. After an injury, you need an experienced legal advocate on your side, and that’s exactly what we’ll be. Contact us today for a free consultation.