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Car Accidents are On the Rise: Important Steps to Take if You are Injured in an Auto Crash

There are more than 6 million vehicle accidents in the US each year, and that number has been increasing recently. Though many of these are minor crashes, there have been an alarming number of serious and catastrophic car accidents in recent months.

According to NBC, traffic deaths hit a 20-year high in early 2022. Nationwide, there were nearly 10,000 car crash fatalities in the first quarter of the year, and California accounted for almost 1,000 of those deaths, or around 10%.

San Bernardino County has seen more than its fair share of serious accidents and traffic fatalities as well. In August, a bicyclist was run over and killed by a drunk driver at the intersection of Haven Avenue and Arrow Route in Rancho Cucamonga. In July, a 20-year-old man was killed in a traffic collision at the intersection of Base Line Road and Mountain View Drive in Rancho Cucamonga.

We all have to be careful when we are driving out on the roads these days, and we must remember to drive safely and defensively to avoid a crash. But in spite of our best efforts, we cannot control the actions of others on the road who may choose to drive carelessly or recklessly.

Car accidents laws are complicated, and if you are ever involved in an auto crash, there are certain steps that you need to take at the scene and shortly thereafter; not only to ensure that any injuries you may have suffered are attended to right away, but also to protect any subsequent legal claim that you may need to file.

What to Do After a Car Accident

Whether you are reading this article in your car after a crash or you are preparing ahead of time for a worst-case scenario, here are some important steps you should take if you are in an auto accident:

  • Remain Calm

The first thing to do after getting into a car crash is to calm down and take a breath. A traumatic event like this can get your heart racing and your mind going in several different directions. Take a quick moment to gather your thoughts and go on to the next step.

  • Call 911

The top priority after a vehicle crash is to make sure that everyone is okay, and that anyone who was hurt receives medical attention. The first call you should make is to 911 to bring first responders to the scene. Even if you do not feel like you are hurt, you should still get checked out by someone just to make sure. 

The adrenaline rush that you experience during a crash sometimes masks the pain from injuries, and it may take a few hours or even up to a few days for you to feel it. There are also internal injuries that may occur that you may not discover until they become more serious. For this reason, it is always important to get immediate medical care.

  • Summon the Police

The 911 operator might call the police for you, or you might have to do it on your own. Either way, make sure the police are called to the scene. You need them there not only to help secure the scene and regulate traffic, but also to produce an official accident report that will be filed at the station. 

The details of the police report will be relied on heavily if you need to file an injury claim, so be sure to review it when it is available and correct any inaccuracies that it may contain.

  • Watch What You Say

When you are dealing with the police, exchanging information with others who were involved in the accident, or talking about the accident to family and friends later on, be very careful what you say. Do not apologize or admit any kind of fault for the crash. Leave the determination of fault for the experts to sort out.

In relation to this, you should also be mindful of the fact that anything you post on social media about the accident could be used against you by the other side in a legal claim. Insurance companies often employ experienced professionals who can uncover social media posts and use them out of context. For this reason, it is best to say as little as possible about the accident online, or ideally nothing at all.

  • Document the Accident

Although there will be an official police report of your car accident, it is a good idea to create a supplemental report of your own. Take photos of the accident scene from as many angles as possible, and if you are unable to do this because of your injuries, have someone else take the photos for you. Also do not forget to capture any dashcam footage if you had a camera rolling at the time of the crash.

When you have some time, get a notebook or journal and write down in as much detail as possible what happened. It is best to do this sooner rather than later so everything is still fresh in your mind. You could also produce an audio report using the voice recorder on your cell phone if you have difficulty writing.

  • Obtain Statements from Witnesses

If there were any individuals who saw what happened, take down their contact information and try to get statements from them at the scene. In many cases, witnesses will be happy to provide an audio or video statement, which again you can record on your cell phone.

  • Follow Your Doctor’s Orders

If you sustain injuries from the car crash, keep detailed records of all of your medical visits, treatments, surgeries and other procedures, doctor’s notes, rehabilitation records, etc. It will be helpful to have all of this information organized in one place if/when you have to use it for an accident injury claim.

In addition, it is very important to follow through on all of your medical visits and follow all of your doctor’s recommendations. Keep in mind that you have a legal obligation to mitigate your losses as much as reasonably possible, and this means doing everything you can to properly treat your injuries and recover from them.

For example, you might be tempted to go back to work a couple of weeks after the car accident, but your doctor might be telling you that you need to stay out for 6 to 8 weeks. If you disregard his advice and go back sooner, you could re-aggravate your injury; and if this happens, the insurance company might refuse to pay additional medical bills claiming that you did not follow your doctor’s orders.

  • Contact an Experienced Car Accidents Lawyer

As soon as possible after the accident, get in touch with a reputable auto accidents lawyer in your area. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, and almost all of them will give you a free, no-obligation consultation after a vehicle accident to discuss your case.

You might not need a lawyer if you had just minor injuries or no injuries at all that you know of. But it costs you nothing but a little of your time to find out for sure. This way, you will have a better understanding of your legal rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed.

If you were involved in a car accident in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, or a nearby community, Muhareb Law Group is here to help. We have extensive experience successfully representing auto accident victims in Southern California, and we will work hard to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve. 

Call our office today at (909) 519-5832 or message us online to set up a free consultation and case assessment with a member of our legal team.