If you have been injured in an auto accident in Arizona, you may have a number of questions swirling in your head, not to mention the fear of what is to come. You may have a number of concerns including how to pay your medical bills and deal with income lost while you recover from your injuries. You may also be wondering how to hold the at-fault driver accountable.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, there were 811 fatal crashes and 36,139 collisions involving injuries statewide in the year 2015. There are a number of steps you can take in such cases to help ensure that your legal rights and best interests are protected.
Immediately After the Accident
If you have been involved in an accident, Arizona law requires that all those who are involved in the collision stop and remain at the scene of the accident. Try to get to a safe location first. And if possible, pull over to the side of the road. All parties are required to exchange pertinent information including contact information, driver’s license, license plate number, insurance details, etc. It is also important to help anyone who has been injured in the accident. If someone has been injured, call 911 right away. A few minutes, sometimes, can make the difference between life and death.
It is crucial to file a police report. Even if you believe it is a relatively minor accident, contact the police right away. Make sure that your account of the incident gets into the police report. It is important to call the police particularly if you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident where the driver who struck you fled the scene.
Exchange information with others involved in the collision. Also identify witnesses and get their names, addresses, phone numbers and emails. Witnesses can be extremely important to a car accident case. So, it is critical to get their information as soon as possible before they leave the scene.
Documenting the Accident Scene
Take notes by writing detailed descriptions of how the accident occurred. Include the time of the incident, the location, roadway and weather conditions. Include a detailed explanation of your driving before the crash. Did you hit the brakes? How fast were you going? Did you have the green light? It can also be very helpful to draw diagrams of how the vehicles were positioned before, during and after the impact. Share the details only with your Arizona car accident lawyer.
Take photographs of the vehicles, the damage to vehicles, of skid marks on the roadway and your (or your passengers’) injuries. Preserve any type of physical evidence at the scene. For example, if there is debris from a hit-and-run vehicle on the roadway, make sure that is preserved. Start a daily journal that details all your daily struggles as a result of your accident-related injuries. Write about what you cannot do such as playing with your children, doing household chores, driving or cooking.
Making Statements about the Incident
Do not make any statements or comments at the scene particularly to the other parties involved in the collision. That’s because any statements you make can and very often, will be used against you. Never admit fault for the accident or make any apologies. Do not speculate about anything. Pay close attention to what the other drivers and eyewitnesses are saying regarding the accident. If they apologize for hitting you or say they didn’t see you coming, write it down immediately or record them. Cell phones are great tools in such situations.
Getting Medical Attention
Immediately after an accident, even if you don’t believe you have suffered any serious injuries, it is important that you get medical attention or pay a visit to your doctor. This is important because many auto accident victims find out they have been seriously injured much later. For example, symptoms of injuries such as whiplash may surface days or even weeks after the accident.
Getting prompt medical attention also gives you the best shot at a quick and complete recovery. In addition, when you get medical attention and treatment for your injuries, it helps document the nature and extent of your injuries and the treatment you received. If you believe you have suffered a serious injury, it is important that you receive emergency transportation and treatment.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
Contact your auto insurance company immediately after the accident. However, do not give them any written or recorded statements until you have consulted with your auto accident attorney and received guidance regarding how to proceed. Never give any type of statement to the other driver’s insurance adjuster. This is because anything you tell them can and most definitely will be used against you during the claims process. They will also try to offer you a quick settlement to minimize the payout.
Do not rush into a settlement or agree to one until you have discussed everything in detail with your lawyer and he or she has had an opportunity to assess the totality of your losses. Once you agree to a settlement you may not be able to seek compensation for future losses. For example, if you need to pay out of pocket for physical therapy, which your health insurance company does not cover, then, you won’t get reimbursed for that if you sign off on a quick settlement.
Contacting an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Injured victims of auto accidents often suffer permanent injuries and disabilities that leave them unable to return to work or even earn a livelihood. Many who suffer catastrophic injuries such as brain damage or paralysis require round-the-clock care and costly medical equipment and rehabilitative treatment. The value or worth of a personal injury case depends on the nature and extent of the injuries, damages and losses sustained.
Injured victims can seek compensation for damages include medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitative treatment, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced Arizona car accident attorney will be able to evaluate the case, fight for victims’ rights, hold the at-fault party accountable and help ensure that victims receive maximum compensation for all their losses.