If you are injured in a car accident, some may say that you should consider yourself lucky. Car accidents kill more than 35,000 people in the United States each year, with roughly one death reported every 12 minutes. However, knowing that you’re not among that number is little compensation if you find yourself injured, potentially to the point that your daily life is affected. Here are a few tips on how to immediately handle the situation in the safest and most effective manner.
The Immediate Accident Scene
In a minor accident, you may be able to get away with simply taking notes and pictures of the scene yourself, but the moment that there is potential for injury or any sort of severe damage to the vehicle, you need to call the police. Be sure to ask that a police report is filed in situations where cops do arrive at the scene, and obtain the name and badge numbers of the responding officers. Most officers will do this as a part of their standard procedure, but it never hurts to ask.
By the same token, while you will want to get the information of everyone involved in the accident, including potential witnesses, you may want to be very careful about what you say regarding the accident itself. For example, a simple apology may be taken as an admission of fault, which may come back to haunt you. However, being cordial and cooperative with the attending officer is always ideal.
Handling Things Medically
Even if your accident is minor and you feel fine at first, it always pays to be cautious and see a doctor after a car accident. Adrenaline at the scene of the accident may block out the pain from injuries you have at first. In addition, a doctor is the best person to help you set a timeline for recovery from any injuries that you do have. It is tempting to try and push yourself to get back to your normal life, but if you overexert yourself, you risk making your situation worse. However, if you want to accompany your recovery, things you can do including keeping regularly hydrated and not being afraid to rest.
Another thing that shouldn’t be ignored is the potential for a car accident to affect your mental health. Up to 30% of people may have some form of “negative psychological response” to a severe road crash. Don’t be afraid to lean on loved ones for help and practice self-care. If things worsen, see a therapist or other mental health professional.
Over the course of your medical treatment, you should also be ready to document things. This includes treatments, medications, and other things that are harder to prove, like pain or suffering. Be ready to list workdays missed due to the accident, or other parts of your life that are affected. All of these will be necessary should you pursue legal action.
Should I Take The Legal Route?
In a minor accident where insurance covers any damages and you are physically unaffected, there may not be any need for legal compensation. However, medical expenses pile up, work days missed may put a burden on your finances, and in some cases, your lifestyle may be permanently altered. If this fits your situation, you may be able to get financial compensation for your accident. The first step will be bringing on a skilled car accident lawyer. Not only will they be necessary for going through the legal proceedings, but will also help you determine if you have enough of a case. This may depend on whether you can prove both fault for the accident and hardship from it, which is why some of the steps we mentioned earlier are so important. Don’t feel that you have to suffer in silence, as while you may not have control of what led to your accident, you can control what happens next.