Unfortunately, no matter how safely you drive, car accidents in Missouri and Kansas can happen. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 13 car accidents occur every minute in the United States. In fact, the National Safety Council reported that approximately 4.8 million people were seriously injured or killed as a result of vehicle collisions in 2020 alone.
Experiencing a car accident can be frightening and scary. After an accident, it may be hard to think clearly and make decisions. This is because a driver or passenger may have many different emotional responses after an accident, for example:
- Adrenaline and stress: The adrenaline and stress caused by the sudden shock of a car accident can impair cognitive function, making it difficult to think, process information, and evaluate the nature and severity of physical injuries.
- Physical injury or trauma: Physical injury can also affect cognitive function and make it difficult to think, especially if the injury is severe or painful.
- Emotional distress: The emotional distress triggered by a car accident, such as fear, anxiety, or shock, can make it difficult to concentrate and make decisions.
- Disorientation: The sudden and chaotic nature of car accidents can disorient people and make it difficult to think and remember what happened.
- Property damage: Cars are expensive, and the sight of a damaged vehicle can cause feelings of frustration, anger, or sadness.
All these responses can make it challenging to think clearly, make informed decisions, and immediately determine what to do at the accident scene. For these reasons, drivers or passengers often make mistakes after a car accident that could negatively affect their ability and right to receive just compensation from at-fault parties and insurance companies.
Here are some common mistakes drivers and passengers make after a car accident:
- Failing to report the accident: Not reporting the accident to the police may limit your ability to seek compensation for your injuries later on.
- Not exchanging information: Failing to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s) can make it difficult to later find potentially responsible parties.
- Not documenting the scene: Failing to take photos or videos of the damage to the vehicles and the surrounding area can make it harder to prove your case to an insurance company or in court.
- Not seeking medical attention: Ignoring signs of injury, even if they seem minor, can make it harder to get compensation later on.
- Not notifying your insurance company: Failing to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible can limit your options for seeking compensation.
- Agreeing to a settlement without legal advice: Agreeing to an early settlement without seeking the advice of a lawyer can result in accepting less compensation than you may be entitled to. It is in the best interest of insurance companies to offer quick, lowball offers to unrepresented victims.
If you are ever involved in a car accident, here are a few important steps to take at the scene to protect your rights:
#1 – Make Sure Everyone is Safe and Check for Injuries
It is important to check on everyone involved in a car accident to make sure they are okay, including yourself. If anyone is hurt, dial 911 and ask for immediate medical assistance.
- If you are able, turn on your emergency flashers and exit the vehicle if it is safe to do so.
- Do not move your vehicle until the scene can be documented, and it is safe to do so.
#2 – Call the Police
Report the accident to the police, even if it’s a minor collision, so that a police report can be made for insurance and legal purposes.
- Once the police arrive, be sure to ask, write down or record the officer’s name(s) and ask them to notify you when the report is available.
- When speaking to the police, be cooperative and exact. Do not exaggerate, guess, or speculate.
- Stay at the scene of the accident until you are told that you can leave.
#3 – Exchange Information with Involved Parties, including Witnesses.
If you are able, request and obtain the contact and insurance information of the other driver(s) involved in the crash or witnesses who saw it happen. Be sure to get each party’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, plate number, and insurance information like the name of the company and policy number.
- If you believe that information cannot be exchanged civilly, do not engage with others. Instead, wait for the police to arrive on the scene and let them get the information.
#4 – Document the Scene
If you can do so safely, document the scene by taking photographs or videos on your phone of any damage or any evidence that shows what happened.
- Do not put yourself in danger to get photographs or videos.
- Photographs of the scene, the interior and exterior of the vehicles involved, road conditions, nearby skid marks, signs, traffic signals, etc., can be useful evidence.
#5 – Consider Going to the Emergency Room
Any time you are in an accident, it is a good idea to be seen by a medical professional. Often, even if you do not have immediate pain, you might have suffered an injury. Here are some additional reasons why you should consider going to the emergency department after any car accident:
- To assess for injuries: Even if you feel fine after a collision, you may have hidden injuries that could be serious. For example, a seatbelt or airbag may cause internal, non-visible injuries. An ER doctor can perform a thorough examination and evaluate any symptoms you may have.
- To receive prompt treatment: If you have a serious injury, receiving prompt treatment can make a big difference in your recovery.
- To document your injuries: Going to the ER will create a record of your injuries, which can be important if you need to make an insurance claim or file a lawsuit.
- To protect your health: Ignoring symptoms or waiting to seek treatment can make your injuries worse and cause long-term health problems.
Too often, car accident victims downplay their injuries and want to avoid the hassle of going to the doctor. However, this is not a good idea. Because of the adrenaline rush after a crash, you may not feel the pain from an injury until much later. Further, car accidents tend to cause non-visible injuries that you may not fully experience for several weeks. For these reasons, you should always consider seeking medical care after an accident.
#6 – Hire an Experienced Law Firm
Depending on the accident, injuries, or losses, car accident victims should always consider hiring an experienced law firm. With many car accident cases, time is of the essence. Evidence at the scene should be preserved and documented. Sometimes it may be necessary to hire an expert early on so the events can be reconstructed using physical evidence. A lawyer experienced with car accident cases can get the necessary investigation underway to make sure the evidence for your case is preserved.
Additionally, experienced lawyers can maximize the value of your case by ensuring that your potential claim is handled correctly.
The lawyers at Bartimus Frickleton Robertson Rader understand that your case is your only case. When we agree to represent a client or a family after a car accident, we agree to devote the time, resources, and expertise necessary to get the best possible result.
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident in Missouri or Kansas, don’t navigate the process on your own. Contact our team of exceptional car accident lawyers today for a free consultation.
The above is not intended to be legal advice. Each individual case is different and must be analyzed on its own set of facts and circumstances. If you believe you may have a case, it is critically important that you timely contact a lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.