How to Protect Yourself Before and After a Car Accident
October 26, 2021
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are over 6.7 million car accidents every year. There are many different causes for an accident and even the safest drivers are likely to end up in at least one accident, though often more, in their lifetime. During the last two years, our world has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in 2020 most people drove significantly less than normal because of stay-at-home orders. Despite that, 2020 also showed the highest rate of fatalities from car accidents since 2007 – a total of 38,680 fatalities. While most accidents do not result in a fatality, the unfortunate reality is that deaths from car accidents are far too common and in many cases can be easily prevented.
While crashes are sometimes unavoidable due to road conditions or inclement weather, the majority of car accidents are caused by human error. Even if you consider yourself to be a safe driver you want to be aware of the risk factors for getting in an accident. The top risk factors are:
- Distracted Driving. Over 600,000 drivers use electronic devices while driving every single day, and even if you feel like you can safely send a quick text while driving, it is the #1 risk factor for car accidents and causes 400,000 injuries and almost 3,000 deaths every year.
- Driving Under the Influence. Despite decades of public awareness campaigns and severe penalties for driving under the influence, it is still one of the most common human error causes of a car accident and causes over 10,000 deaths in crashes yearly.
- Speeding. For nearly two decades, speeding has contributed to an average of 1/3 of all car accidents and causes almost 9,500 deaths every year. Even under the safest road conditions, speeding is an extremely dangerous risk to take.
When trying to avoid an accident, keeping these risk factors in mind can significantly decrease your chances of a crash. Unfortunately, even the safest drivers can be caught in not-at-fault accidents that can cause property damage, injury, and death. Because of the inevitability of car accidents within a person’s lifetime, it is important to adjust your behavior to decrease your risk of getting into an accident, always protect yourself by always wearing your seatbelt, which decreases your risk of injury or death in an accident by ~45%.
Despite your best driving practices and intentions, sometimes accidents happen. While the hope is that you drive safely and are never involved in an accident, the likelihood of an accident occurring necessitates that drivers prepare themselves for what they need to do after an accident to prevent an already traumatic experience from becoming worse. Your initial reaction when an accident occurs is most likely shock and fear, and those emotions can make it difficult to know how to react. Unfortunately, the immediate moments after an accident are all too often the time when someone makes a mistake that can cost them dearly down the road, even something as simple as apologizing after getting out of your car. We recommend 9 steps you must do when an accident occurs to protect yourself after an accident occurs:
- Pull over on the side of the road and make sure you and your vehicle are out of danger
- Determine whether anyone is hurt – Never leave the scene of an accident
- Call the police
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver
- Document the scene: take photos of the accident scene and your injuries
- Collect information: the names and phone numbers of witnesses
- Seek immediate medical attention
- Avoid discussion of what happened. DO NOT apologize or admit fault
- Consult an attorney before speaking with an insurance agent
Have you recently been involved in a car accident? Contact us and we can help fight for the compensation and closure you need so you can focus on getting better.