(Recommended) What to do Immediately After a Car Accident
The steps that you take in the immediate aftermath of an accident are important for protecting your rights. Many people who are injured in accidents are overwhelmed and do not know what to do. Continue reading below to learn what to do after an accident and the process of receiving the most compensation for your injuries.
Here are some important steps for you to take immediately after a car accident:
- Call 911 and check for injuries
- Remain at the scene
- Exchange information with the other driver
- Take photographs of both vehicles and your injuries if you can, or ask someone to take them for you
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Seek medical attention
- Contact Hutzler Law
You should never leave the scene of an injury accident. Even if the accident was not your fault, you could be criminally charged if you leave the scene before the police arrive. Call 911 to report the accident and stay at the scene. Check yourself, your passengers, and people in the other vehicle for injuries.
If anyone has been injured, provide first aid measures until help arrives. If you can, photograph the damage to both vehicles, the scene, and your injuries. If you are unable to take photos, ask someone else if he or she can take pictures for you with your smartphone. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw what happened.
Exchange information with the other driver, making certain to write down his or her name, contact information, registration information, and insurance information. If you can, photograph the driver’s license plate, driver’s license, insurance card, and registration paperwork. If the driver is belligerent, stay in your car until the police arrive and ask them to get the information for you. Never accept blame or say that the accident was your fault.
When the police arrive, tell them what happened in the moments leading up to the accident. If you have noticed any signs that the other driver may be under the influence, tell the officer so that the driver can be tested. Even if you believe that you have not been injured, you should still seek medical attention after an accident. If the officer asks if you have been injured, simply tell him or her that you want to see a doctor.
Some injuries do not show immediate symptoms. By going to your doctor or the hospital to get a medical exam, you can find out whether you have been injured and start the appropriate treatment. Getting immediate medical attention also helps to show the causal link between your accident and your injuries so that the insurance company will not be able to blame them on an intervening cause.
After you have sought medical treatment, follow all of the recommendations that you are given by your doctor. Contact the legal team at Hutzler Law to schedule a free consultation so that you can learn more about your claim and whether you have the grounds to file a lawsuit. If we accept the representation of your case, we will handle the negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are common occurrences in Arizona and result in thousands of injuries and fatalities each year. The Arizona Department of Transportation reports that in 2018 alone, 127,056 crashes were reported to law enforcement in the state. Out of those crashes, 28.73% resulted in injuries and 0.72% resulted in fatalities, injuring 53,376 people and killing 1,010. More needs to be done to reduce the number of accidents. According to a report from the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law School, 90% of car accidents are caused at least in part by human error.
When people cause crashes because of negligence, the seriously injured victims or the family members of those who are killed have a right to file civil wrongful death lawsuits to recover damages for their losses. Car accidents commonly result from the negligence of one or both drivers.Some of the common types of negligent acts that can lead to accidents include the following:
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Aggressive driving
- Following too close
- Failing to notice that traffic has slowed in front of a vehicle
- Inattentive driving
- Failing to notice oncoming motorcyclists when turning left onto a highway
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Improper lane changes
- Failing to obey traffic control devices
- Defective parts
- Inadequate maintenance and repairs
- Poorly maintained roads
Some motor vehicle accidents result from multiple causes. At Hutzler Law, our legal team conducts thorough investigations into the causes of accidents. This helps us to identify all of the defendants that should be named in our clients’ lawsuits, providing more recovery sources to help our clients receive fair compensation for their loses.
Negligence in Car Accidents – Who is at Fault?
Most injury accident claims are based on the legal theory of negligence. This occurs when someone fails to act with the degree of care that a reasonable person under similar circumstances would exercise. Plaintiffs in auto accident claims must prove the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence to prevail in their cases:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
- The defendant violated the duty of care that he or she owed to the plaintiff.
- The defendant’s breach of the duty of care was the proximate or direct cause of the accident and injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered harm and losses as a result.
Negligence per se is another legal theory that comes into play in some car accidents in Arizona. This tort rule says that when a defendant engages in actions that violate a law, the court will consider the defendant to have acted negligently. An example of when negligence per se might apply is when a drunk driver causes an accident.
In some cases, both drivers may share degrees of fault. Arizona has a comparative negligence law to address this situation at A.R.S. § 12-2505. Under this statute, injured car accident victims can recover damages even if they are partially at fault for their accidents. However, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to them. For example, if a jury finds that you were 20% at fault and awards a gross verdict of $1 million, the net amount that would be awarded to you would be $800,000 after the reduction for your degree of fault.
Compensation in Car Accident Claims
Every accident is unique, which means that the monetary amount that might be recoverable will vary from case to case. The damages that you might recover will depend on multiple factors such as the extent and severity of your injuries, the other driver’s conduct, and the other facts and circumstances that occurred. Compensation for an injury is determined by the different factors of damages. Some of the types of damages that might be recoverable after an accident include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future wage losses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Property losses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress/mental anguish
- Loss of consortium and guidance
- Reduction in the ability to enjoy life
- Disfigurement and scarring
These damages are called compensatory damages because they are meant to compensate accident victims for their economic and noneconomic losses. Punitive damages are another type of damages that are not meant to compensate injured victims. Instead, punitive damages are sometimes awarded to punish the defendant and to deter others from engaging in similar conduct in the future. As such, they are awarded only in cases in which the defendants’ conduct was especially outrageous and are not available in every accident.
Understanding Insurance Companies after an Accident
Insurance companies commonly contact accident victims who have been injured soon after they learn about the accidents. If you are contacted by an insurance adjuster, remember that the adjuster is employed by the insurance company and has the company’s interests at heart instead of yours. Do not agree to provide a recorded statement or sign anything that you are presented by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
You can tell the insurance representative that you want to talk to a personal injury lawyer before you will agree to talk or sign anything. Insurance companies try to get victims to give recorded statements so that they can use what the victims say against them.
They might try to get you to sign a medical release and tell you they need it to determine the severity of your injuries. The companies often use medical releases to access all of the medical information of accident victims so that they can try to blame their injuries on other events in their lives. Finally, do not accept a fast settlement from an insurance company. These are frequently low-ball offers that will not cover your losses. Have everything that you are presented reviewed by an attorney.
Multiple Recovery Sources to Pay Your Claim
Some accidents may have multiple sources of recovery. For example, if the other driver’s insurance was insufficient to cover all of your losses, your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy might cover the remainder up to your policy limits. If the other driver was driving a vehicle during the course and scope of his or her job, his or her employer may be vicariously liable under a legal theory called respondeat superior. The attorneys at Hutzler Law understand how to uncover multiple insurance policies that might apply so that your recovery might be enough to pay for all of your losses.
Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer if Have You Been Injured
When you are injured in a car accident that was caused by someone else, you should take steps to protect your rights. The car accident law team at Hutzler Law has the skills and experience necessary to help you to recover the maximum damages to which you should be entitled. We have a successful track record recovering compensation through settlements and verdicts throughout the state of Arizona and can help you through the litigation process as we work to recover fair compensation to pay for your losses.
Get Immediate Help from the Hutzler Law Team
Suffering serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident can permanently alter the course of your life. You should find an experienced car accident attorney to represent you. The legal team at Hutzler Law has recovered millions of dollars for our clients, and we understand how to build strong cases for our clients. We offer free consultations and work on a contingent-fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay our legal fees until and unless we recover compensation for you. Additionally, we will never collect more from the settlement than what you receive.