AUTO ACCIDENTS: 101
According to the U.S Department of Transportation, the average person encounters some form of auto accident at least every 17 years. When in a hurry to leave for work in the morning, nobody suspects that their daily routine could be disrupted by an auto accident. Regardless of one’s perfect driving record, we cannot assume that we will never be in an accident. Even if an accident is minor, we naturally become flustered where it becomes hard to think straight immediately following an accident. Although predicting an accident is out of our control, what we are in control of is remaining well-informed on pre-accident and post-accident procedures. Being prepared to handle an auto accident will make the process smoother, quicker, and much
ALWAYS BE PREPARED SHOULD AN ACCIDENT OCCUR
Always expect the unexpected by preparing yourself for an accident with the list below. These measures will contribute to your safety and offset the rattled feeling that is likely to occur:
Pack a vehicle safety kit to keep in your car. Safety kits should contain the following items in a durable, waterproof storage container:
Charge your mobile device before leaving home. Consider carrying an extra phone charger in your vehicle.
Keep loose items, such as mobile devices, in your glove box or center console in case of an accident. Keep the necessary documents handy if an accident should occur, including a copy of your insurance information and your driver’s license.
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• Tow rope
• Collapsible shovel
• Paper towels or old rags
• First-aid kit
• Snow scraper/brush
• Basic tool kit
• Matches and candles
• Window washer fluid
• Water and snacks
• Extra set of gloves and a warm hat
TOP 3 CAUSES OF ACCIDENTS
- DISTRACTED DRIVING
Texting and emailing are the leading cause of distracted-driving accidents. Other distractions, such as reading, eating, applying makeup, and talking on the phone cause a great deal of accidents as well. Even adjusting the radio is considered distracted driving, so its best to limit radio use and change stations only at traffic stops.
Speeding contributes to almost half of all accidents. Our everyday life doings are specifically designed to save time, yet we still struggle to be on time. Utilize time-saving technologies and consider leaving 10-20 minutes sooner than you normally would in the mornings.
- 3. DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED
About 40% of all accident fatalities involve drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Not only that, but nearly 100% of accident fatalities involving drivers who under the influence also involve speeding.
You have been involved in a collision and regardless of its severity, it’s crucial to remember two things while prioritizing your next steps: stay calm and keep safety first. As simple as it sounds, these two factors will be quick to slip your mind but can make a huge difference in the outcome of an accident. Be aware of your surroundings- especially passing traffic. Apply your preplanned safety resources from your safety kit, and follow these step-by-step instructions immediately following an accident for the smoothest auto accident
Turn off your vehicle.
Check for evident injuries on yourself and others involved
Call the police if you are able, regardless of the severity of the collision. In
some states, it’s the law to report all accidents to the police. Failure to
comply can result in a fine.
Document the scene. There are 10 pieces of required information to gather
while waiting for the police to arrive:
• Driver and passenger’s names
• License plate number
• Driver’s insurance information
• Makes and models of vehicles
• Contact information of witnesses
• Location of accident
• Time of accident
• Name and badge number of responding
Take pictures of the scene- they may come in handy if there is a dispute over
Call your insurance company. Being the first person in the accident to notify
your insurance is always encouraged. This ensures you get your side of the
story in before the other driver files a claim. Doing this can also help reduce
the amount that the other driver claims.
Get a Property Damage Evaluation. After you have notified your insurance
company about the accident, you will need to make an appointment to get
the damage on your car evaluated. If you do not agree with the repair
approximations, you are free to shop around for estimates. This way, you
can do some negotiating with your claim adjuster, or if necessary, proceed
to small claims court.
THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF AUTO ACCIDENTS
Remain at the scene. Use caution if you chose to push the vehicles involved
to the side of the road.
Use your hazard lights to help make surrounding cars on the road aware of
their approaching obstruction.
Call the police- even for minor collisions. A police report can protect you
from fraud, so you can’t lose.
Seek medical attention after an accident. Suffering from internal injuries
can often be more dangerous than a physical injury.
Record any comments made by the other driver after the accident such as,
“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.”
After the accident, continue to follow-up with the necessary persons
including: legal authorities, insurance companies, and medical advisors. If
you become involved in a law suit, you will want records to show you’ve
been on top of handling your end of the responsibilities.
Never flee an accident.
Never admit fault or assign blame. Keep conversation with the other driver to a minimum so that nothing can be used against you later.
Let the other driver talk you out of calling the police. Scammers pull the old “stop and go” trick to cause an accident. Officers are trained to detect staged accidents.
Sign any your name on any document unless it’s from the police or your insurance agent.
Lose your patience. Losing your cool can negatively affect the outcome of the accident for you.
DETERMINING ACCIDENT ACCOUNTABILITY
Determining who is at fault in an accident can be complicated because collisions are most often unintentional- generally speaking. If one resides in a fault-based insurance state, insurance companies will determine fault based on the type of negligence defined.
Some states follow no-fault insurance laws. If an accident occurs, property damages remain fault-based but each driver’s insurance pays for their own insurer’s medical expenditures up to a certain threshold. Medical expenses will only be covered if the driver is carrying their valid PIP (personal injury protection) form.
[TIP: The more evidence you gather while documenting the scene- the easier it will be to determine accountability]
TYPES OF NEGLIGENCE
Comparative/Modified Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence allows both drivers in an accident to share liability. In other words, even if you are 9% at-fault for an accident, you will still take home 1% of the award amount. Some states use a modified form of comparative negligence where you can only recoup your losses if you are found less than 50% liable for the accident.
Contributory negligence, otherwise known as “pure contributory negligence,” is the hardline way of determining who gets to recoup all damages. For example, if a defendant is 80% at fault for an accident and the plaintiff is 20% at fault, then the plaintiff will not be entitled to any of the settlement.
There are often cases where a person or company is vicariously liable for an accident that happened while someone else was driving the car. For example, if an employee crashes a company car, the company is vicariously liable for the damages involved. To prove vicarious liability, the plaintiff must have evidence that the defendant was the person responsible for the damages from the accident.
Gross negligence claims refer to cases where the driver in the accident showed a conscious and voluntary disregard for the safety of others and them self. For example, if you are hit by a drunk driver, you could
claim that the other driver acted with gross negligence.
WILL MY INSURANCE RATE GO UP AFTER AN ACCIDENT?
After an accident, one question that everyone will immediately ask is, “are my insurance rates going to go up?” or, “How much is this going to cost?” Aside from the safety of everyone involved, people cannot seem to shift their focus away from money.
Just because you are at fault for an accident, it does not mean your monthly premium will automatically increase. Your insurance company is going to look at the specifics of your driving record. Now, if someone has recently filed a $2,000 claim against you, then you’re going to have a pretty good chance of your rates going up. Not to worry- Maintaining a safe driving record for a long enough period will bring that rate back down.
Keep a file that contains all accident-related documents. Keeping your documents organized will help you stay on top of concluding the last steps in the accident process, but will also come in handy should you need them for a court case. The file should include the claim number, insurance information, accident report, photos, medical records and receipts, rental car receipts, etc.
Understand your rights and what you are entitled to be compensated for. There are some compensations that people never suspect they are entitled to- loss of wages, pain and sufferings, property loss, and medical bills.
Never accept a quick settlement. There are major risks to accepting a quick settlement. If you accept a settlement too quickly, you are more than likely getting less than what you deserve. Also, if your injuries worsen with time, your case can not be reopened once it’s settled.
HAVE YOU SUFFERED FROM AN INJURY? DO YOU NEED HELP FINDING A DOCTOR OR ATTORNEY?
Assistance finding & scheduling your medical appointments. We’ll get you seen quickly and avoid traditional scheduling headaches. After hearing about your case, we’ll search our database to find and connect you with the attorney’s who have the track record to bring you success. Interview several so you make an informed choice!
Transportation accommodations can be arranged if your vehicle or transportation method has been disrupted due to your accident.
Collecting your medical records and forwarding them to your attorney, reducing the time it normally takes to retrieve records from providers and minimizing additional costs to your case. Since we have direct contact with your providers, we’ll be able to make sure everyone on your medical treatment team stays in the loop, so you get better, faster.