Car Accident vs. Incident? How Can You Prepare for Either?

It is never going to happen to me….

Ninety percent of us have been in some type of car accident during our lifetime. Yet, most people think it will never happen to them. Thinking about how often car accidents occur, we have to operate with the mindset that it really won’t happen to us or it can cause paralyzing fear. There are approximately 6 million motor vehicle crashes per year in the U.S. While we are not statisticians, we know it is critical to be prepared and know at least the first steps you would take at a crash-scene.

Most of us have to travel by passenger car on daily basis and we have to find a way to feel that we control our own safety destiny. Feeling like you are a safe driver gives you the confidence to drive every day and have some semblance of control. It is the mindset that “it will never happen to me” that affords us this strength. We hope the worst car insurance claim you ever have to make is a door-ding from the grocery store parking lot. While we simply cannot live our lives in fear, we can be prepared should we be in a car crash. Knowing how to respond after a collision changes how you approach the situation with less worry.

Knowing what you should do after a car accident will be important at some point in your life. It may not be you specifically but without a doubt a family member or friend will actually have to contemplate what to do after a crash. It is better to have some idea of what to do. It is also important to understand “accident” vs. “incident” when it comes to motor vehicle collisions.

Accident vs. Incident

The term “accident” means an “event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause”. Do you really see that many car crashes that have no apparent cause? Police officers and state troopers call these car collisions “incidents” for a good reason. Very few car crashes are sheer accident or acts of God. Most traffic collisions have actual causes or contributing causes such as inattentiveness, distracted driving and speeding (just a few common causes)

Again, an accident implies sheer chance and implies no liability or fault on behalf of any driver. If you are hurt due to the someone else’s driving decision, then the “cause” of the crash will be important to you. The common idea that “accidents happen” often lets at-fault driver’s insurance carriers deny accountability for driving errors. If you are injured by someone else, the “accidents happen” scenario is a problem.

More than 3 million people in the US that are injured every year and around 2 million drivers in crashes experience permanent injury. Hence, these are not accidents and do not happen by sheer coincidence. There are causes to 99% of all motor vehicle collisions. Often, we do not use the term “car accident” but it is the common language. When most people think of a “car accident” they do mean that the other driver did not intentionally hit them. Granted, an intentional car wreck is not only a civil matter but can be a criminal matter as well.

Knowing What to Do After a Crash….

Due to the fact that it is a car accident or incident, it is not something that you plan. Likewise, you do not plan for a house fire but you still may develop a fire escape plan. We all have emergency plans for house fires and tornados but rarely do you stop to think about what steps you would take after a car accident. Having a plan can save you time and headaches. After you’ve been involved in a car collision, emotions and adrenaline are running high. Often, the ability to focus on a list of tasks or a phone application can make the first minutes and hours a little bit less complex. We offer a free iPhone app-InjuryAttorney

Call 911. Some will tell you to exchange information and sort it out later. We recommend that you contact authorities immediately. Waiting to call can cost precious time that an injured party cannot afford to wait. Additionally, if your crash occurs in traffic (which most do), you need law enforcement there to direct traffic for safety! Failing to call the police is taking a gamble that the other driver will give you the correct information and give the facts. They may, in fact, deny the collision ever happened when asked by the insurance company and change their story. Without an officer, the odds are reduced that you will ever see that driver or their insurance information again. This happens way more often than it should.

Exchange Information. Get the names and contact information of drivers and passengers as well as any witnesses. Get the vehicle information including license plate numbers and insurance company. You will want to record the exact location of the crash and time. Again, when you involve police officers, they will document the crash as in exchanging information.

Take Photos. Most people always have photos of their own vehicle. However, it is truly helpful if you take photos of all of the vehicles in the crash at the scene. Generally people are very good about getting pictures of their car. If hospitalized, it seems that friends and tow yards also take photos. Officers do not usually photograph a vehicle or a scene unless a fatality is involved.

Seek Medical Treatment. It is the standard procedure after a crash to make sure you are not bleeding and do not have broken bones protuding through the skin. This may sound humrous but sincelery, after a car crash you are literally looking for bleeding and broken bones. Follow up with medical help—an injury can be life-changing but not life-threatening. What do I mean by that? Serious injuries can occur but may not involve broken bones, life support or emergency surgery. Various spine injuries are not always diagnosed in the ER. The ER usually makes sure that you have not broken bones or in fact, do not need emergency surgery. In follow up treatment, should symptoms not resolve further evaluation and treatment through specialists may diagnose other types of spine injuries. After a crash, seek help if you have pain. Pain is the body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong so do not put off seeking medical treatment.

Call an Attorney. BEFORE you start calling auto insurance companies and begin giving statements about your injuries, call a lawyer. We would much rather give you information and directions before you start an injury or property damage claim, rather than make one of the most common mistakes. Car accident victims do not make these common mistakes out of ignorance or mischievousness, but do so in an attempt to be fair and keep an adjuster up-to-date. Updating the insurance adjuster about your medical treatment is a mistake.

We are available seven days a week. There are no stupid questions after a car crash except the ones you do not ask. Gaining information including advice from a car accident attorney can be critical if you need to make an injury claim. Most people have no idea the extent of their injury claim in the first few weeks.

Call us toll free 1-800-685-3302 or locally 314-276-1681

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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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