Car accidents are all too common in the United States – with no signs of slowing down. Knowing what to do after an accident that’s not your fault can be difficult, especially in the initial shock of the collision. The good news is the law is on your side and you may be entitled to compensation.
The Annual United States Road Crash report shows that 4.4 million people are injured in car accidents every year and require medical attention. Accidents can happen in an instant and change you or a loved one’s life forever.
As Chicago car accident lawyers, our goal is to educate victims on navigating the process of seeking justice after a collision. Let’s get started.
What are the Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Car accidents are usually caused by driver error – but that’s not always the case. An external factor outside both parties’ control can sometimes be the culprit. Accidents on the road can happen for a million reasons. Here are several of the most common ones.
Distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents in the United States – even with all the laws prohibiting handheld devices while driving. These types of accidents can be attributed to more than just technology – including eating, drinking, fiddling with the stereo, and so on.
Driving Under the Influence
It’s no secret that drugs and alcohol are serious roadway hazards. Drugs and alcohol impair a driver’s judgment, muscle coordination, and visibility. Every year, more than 10,000 people more than 10,000 people lose their lives to drunk driving, making up around one-third of all traffic fatalities.
Even with all the regulations and harsh punishments in place, people drive under the influence every day. If you’re wondering what to do after you get in a car accident caused by impaired driving, get in touch with an attorney immediately. You may be entitled to a large settlement.
Running Stop Signs/Traffic Lights
Traffic signs and lights are there to maintain order and safety on the road. All it takes is one driver missing these signals to cause a devastating car accident. Fortunately, many intersections these days have cameras – and can be instrumental in holding the at-fault party accountable.
Failure to Yield
Failure to yield is a common action that causes accidents on the road. These crashes commonly occur when someone is merging lanes, making a turn, or entering a highway without taking proper precautions. Even with all the new vehicle safety technology, these accidents are still very common.
Road rage is an unfortunate reality – especially in more densely populated areas – that causes drivers to act irrationally. This type of aggressive driving can commonly result in accidents. In more extreme cases, road rage can even lead to wrongful death.
Auto defects resulting in car accidents are rare, but they do happen. In these scenarios, the auto manufacturer can be held liable for the accident – you and the other driver may be entitled to compensation.
Poor Road Conditions
A poorly maintained road, intersection, or signage may be to blame for a car accident. You will need to document the conditions that led to your accident. The city may be liable.
Signage is critical to keeping people safe on the road. Perhaps there is an uncontrolled intersection with no signs or a sign that provides incorrect directions. The municipality may be held responsible for an accident in these situations.
Head and Brain Injuries
Any injury to the head or brain can be potentially life-altering. Concussions in car accidents are very common, ranging from mild to severe. These can occur from direct impacts or whiplash. Unfortunately, many victims of car accidents do not realize they have a brain injury until it is too late.
If the accident caused any sort of fast/sudden head movement, do not take any risks and get yourself examined.
Lacerations in car accidents are commonly caused by broken glass, loose objects, or broken parts of the car. Most lacerations are minor but can be much more severe in high-speed car accidents. Punctured organs and excessive loss of blood require immediate medical assistance. Lacerations may happen alongside other injuries – which can lead to compounding issues.
Soft Tissue Damage
Soft tissue damage can happen when your body jolts, twists, or strains in unnatural movements. These injuries happen when connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments become damaged and cause pain or mobility issues.
Whiplash is considered to be soft tissue damage, which commonly results in ongoing pain in the neck. Soft tissue damage can be extremely serious and have long-term effects on your movement. Moreover, the effects may not be evident until days after the accident.
Chest injuries can range from mild bruising and contusions to internal bleeding or broken bones. These injuries are commonly caused by seatbelts or airbags in high-impact car accidents. Fortunately, the seat belt and airbag would likely save you from more severe injuries – or death – in an extreme crash.
Arm and Leg Injuries
Depending on the circumstances, an arm or leg may get trapped in the damaged car parts during a severe crash. The injuries may include broken bones, fractures, lacerations, or in some cases, amputation.
Neck and Back Injuries
Injuries to the spinal cord can be potentially life-altering. These are caused by fast, sudden movement as the vehicle is hit. In some cases, neck and back injuries are not apparent immediately after the accident. Even if you aren’t experiencing any pain at the scene, be sure to get checked by a medical professional. Complications from these injuries can be extremely severe.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
Step 1: Safety!
The most important thing you can do after an accident is to protect yourself from further harm. Start by turning on your hazard lights. If you’re on a highway or busy street, try to move to a safe area as soon as you can – the shoulder. Check yourself for injuries.
Do not, under any circumstance, drive away. Leaving the scene of an accident – even if it’s not your fault – is illegal. If the other driver takes off, stay put and report the accident yourself.
Step 2: Take Pictures
Pictures are crucial pieces of evidence in car accident personal injury cases. If you’re not seriously injured, try to get pictures immediately after the collision. The more angles you can get, the better. These pictures will be used to attribute liability and help to earn the maximum settlement.
Step 3: Call the Police
Don’t waste any time calling the police after an accident. Even if the accident seems minor, you need to get the authorities on the scene ASAP to file an official report.
Step 4: Get Checked for Injuries
To reiterate, injuries after a car accident can take a while to show up. Even if you don’t feel like you’re injured, ALWAYS get checked by a professional. For instance, they will take some field tests to determine if you have a concussion. These symptoms may not be clear to you – and getting checked out could potentially save your life.
Step 5: Exchange Information
As with any car accident, you’ll need to get your and the other driver’s insurance providers involved. Get as much information as you can, including:
- Phone number
- DL number
- License plate
- Location of accident
Step 6: Collect More Evidence
Hopefully, you’ve captured the essential photos of the accident – including damage to the vehicle and your injuries. The next step is to get as much additional evidence as you can. Your ability to earn the maximum settlement depends on how much evidence you present.
Try to take more pictures of the surroundings. Document the road conditions, signage, and anything else that may have contributed to the accident. If applicable, collect the contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident. This will be critical if the case goes to trial.
Step 7: Choose Your Words Wisely
You may be questioned by the other driver’s insurance company after the accident. If you get a call from them, be very careful about what you say. Do not make any indication that may point to the accident being your fault. Insurance companies have no problem twisting your words to put you in the wrong. Never agree to a recorded statement – from your insurance company or theirs – without contacting a lawyer first.
If you decide not to hire a car accident lawyer (which we do not recommend) don’t discuss fault or tell them you are not injured. All you need to do is state the facts.
It’s also important to be mindful of how you talk about the accident in public. Never post anything about the accident on social media. This can come back to bite you.
Step 8: Talk to a Car Accident Attorney
Following an injury, the best thing you can do is seek out a personal injury attorney who specializes in car accidents. Knowing what happens after a car accident may not be crystal clear. Hopefully, you haven’t dealt with many in your life
Insurance companies have all kinds of tactics to avoid compensating car accident victims. Personal injury attorneys know how to counter these tactics to earn the maximum settlement.
Many victims of car accidents falsely believe they cannot afford an attorney. What many don’t realize is personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they make a percentage of the settlement AFTER they win the case. They won’t charge clients a penny out-of-pocket to take the case. In other words, ANY victim of a car accident can afford a skilled attorney.
What Damages Can You Collect in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
The car accident lawsuit will work to earn compensation for all damages that resulted from the accident. Generally, compensation for car accidents is split into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are anything you can put a clear monetary value on, including (but not limited to):
- Lost wages
- Damage to earning potential
- Property damage (your vehicle and other belongings)
- Medical bills and expenses
Non-economic damages have value, but not a direct monetary loss attached. These damages may include (but are not limited to):
- Pain and suffering
- Loos of companionship
- Decreased quality of life.
The Next Step
Being involved in a car accident is a scary ordeal. Getting coverage for your injuries and recouping your damages is a key step in getting the justice you deserve. To echo a previous point, earning a fair settlement is not something that many victims can do on their own.
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney in Chicago is the best thing you can do to help your case. Even if you’re just looking for more information on the personal injury process, it never hurts to reach out.
At Midwest Injury Lawyers, we proudly serve victims of car accidents helping them earn fair compensation. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have and point you in the right direction. Call our office at 312-786-5881, send an email to email@example.com, or request a consultation online.