Every single day, car accidents happen in fractions of seconds. Of course, no one expects to be involved in a collision, and thus many drivers find themselves completely overwhelmed in the aftermath of a crash - especially when they're dealing with serious physical injuries along with the emotional trauma often experienced by accident victims. Would you know what steps to take if you were involved in a crash? As Cape Girardeau car accident attorneys, we want you to be equipped with the information you need to protect yourself, just in case the unexpected happens to you.
Being prepared for a Missouri car accident:
• The best offense is a good defense. It's an old cliché, but it's especially applicable when it comes to roadway safety. Take simple steps to ensure you're driving responsibly: wear your seat belt; avoid distractions; don't drink and drive; don't travel too fast for conditions. Unfortunately, taking these measures won't guarantee that you'll be able to avoid every potential accident, but they will give you better odds. What's more, if a collision does occur, your chances of escaping serious injury are much higher.
• Carry your insurance card with you at all times. Apart from being good common sense, it's also Missouri state law. Also, it's a good idea to keep a pencil and notepad in your vehicle so you can write down important information. After a collision, if you're physically able to do so, you'll want to record the other driver's name, address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance info.
• Take some time to program important phone numbers into your phone. These numbers should include your medical providers, your car insurance company, and your emergency contacts, etc. You might consider downloading the ICE (In Case of Emergency) app for your Apple or Android devices: among other things, the app allows you to store your emergency information on your phone's lock screen, just in case you are incapacitated in an accident.
• Your top priorities should be getting yourself out of harm's way and calling 911. If possible, you'll also want to move your vehicle out of the roadway so it doesn't cause a secondary crash. Also, it's crucial that you move away from the road to exchange information with other drivers. Many accident fatalities are caused when drivers leave their vehicles following minor accidents only to be struck by other oncoming vehicles.
• While you'll want to collect contact and insurance information from other drivers, passengers, and witnesses, we advise that you avoid commenting on the accident to others. Accidents are upsetting, and it's common for drivers to say things like "it was partly my fault," simply because they're trying to be kind. Admitting to any measure of fault - especially when you are not the at-fault driver - can potentially cause problems for you in pursuing a personal injury claim.
• If possible, take photographs of everything. Try to obtain photos of the general area where the accident occurred; any signage or road obstructions; car damage; traffic lights; weather conditions; and/or skid marks. If you're using a cell phone camera, make sure the photos are time-stamped.
• If possible, jot down your observations of roadway conditions, weather, and any remarks made by other drivers, passengers, and witnesses. This information could be extremely useful in the future.
• If you are injured, seek medical treatment immediately, and save all documentation of that treatment. Remember that symptoms of soft-tissue injuries - like whiplash - sometimes take hours or even days to show up. If you're experiencing any pain or discomfort, get checked out: better safe than sorry.