After getting into a car accident, there’s a lot that goes through your mind, especially if you or the other driver is injured as a result. Unfortunately, The Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center reports that since 2008, the number of automobile accidents and injury crashes in Connecticut continues to increase.
In the unfortunate event that you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, it’s important to understand your legal options. As outlined by Connecticut General Statutes 52-584, in most instances, your personal injury lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date you suffered the injury. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this timeframe, you may lose your right to seek financial compensation.
While a motor vehicle accident is always unexpected, being prepared for what to do if you’re in a car accident with injuries is exceptionally important. Being prepared is the best defense for ensuring both your physical and financial recovery, as a number of critical decisions need to be made fairly quickly. Here is what I recommend my clients do if they are involved in a car accident with injuries.
Step 1: Check Yourself and Everyone Involved in the Car Accident for Injuries
Immediately after the accident, first, check yourself for any injuries. Do not move if you think that you are injured. Some bodily injuries, such as broken bones or visible wounds, are easy to detect while others may present themselves after the accident. With your body full of adrenaline, soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, sprains, strains and contusions, may take 24 hours or longer to show up after the accident. This is why it is critical to seek medical treatment after a car accident even if you show no visible signs of injury. Besides your health and wellbeing, it can also have an impact on how your personal injury case is settled.
If you are physically and safely able to do so, check on the other drivers and passengers involved in the accident. Do not move anyone that appears to be injured. Be sure to pay attention to your surroundings, especially if traffic is continuing around you.
Step 2: Call the Police and Exchange Information
Take note, Connecticut law requires that you stay at the scene of an accident and render assistance as needed. This means that you should not leave the accident location. Call 911 and remain at the scene and with any injured person(s) until first responders arrive.
Connecticut law requires the police to file an accident report if there are any property or injury damages that exceed $1,000. The police report is an important document for both insurance companies and personal injury attorneys to obtain.
Be sure to exchange personal contact and motor vehicle insurance information with everyone involved at the scene, as this can help you with your insurance or personal injury claim later down the road. Under Connecticut law, it is required that you provide your name, address, license and vehicle registration number to an injured person, an officer, a witness, or an owner of the damaged property. You should also document the other driver’s license plate number and basic insurance information.
While it’s important to be cooperative and civil to all parties involved, it’s also imperative to not discuss fault, as you may inadvertently make statements that could hurt your claim.
Step 3: Seek Immediate Medical Treatment
Do not refuse treatment from an emergency responder or paramedic and be honest about every symptom you’re experiencing, no matter its severity. Refusing medical treatment can seriously hinder your injury claim as the defense can argue that your injuries were not caused by the accident.
Some of the most common injuries I see in motor vehicle accidents can produce delayed symptoms. A medical examination from a trained medical professional is critical for your personal well-being and provides documentation for your injury claim. If you did not go to the hospital directly from the scene of the accident, we recommend seeking medical treatment as quickly as possible.
Step 4: Support Your Claim by Gathering Evidence
Immediately following a motor vehicle accident, it’s important to gather as much evidence as possible while still onsite. Evidence to support your accident claim includes photos of all the motor vehicles involved, debris on the road as a result of the accident (such as roadway skid marks), weather conditions and traffic.
I’ve seen first-hand how easy it is to forget the exact details of an accident. With everything happening so quickly, important information can be forgotten or appear foggy. This is why I recommend taking notes of the situation and writing everything down on paper or on your phone, including details like the:
- Date and time of the accident
- Name and badge number of the police officers who responded
- Weather conditions
- Witness names and contact information
Obtaining this information will be beneficial to your insurance claim and personal injury claim.
Step 5: Inform Your Auto Insurance Carrier
Most insurance companies require that you report a motor vehicle accident, regardless of severity. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault or there is no damage or injury, you should still promptly report it to your insurance carrier as delayed health symptoms and fraud are not uncommon. Withholding information from your insurance carrier may give them a basis for denying coverage that otherwise would be available to you.
This is not a time for finger-pointing. When you feel that you are calm and physically safe to do so, I recommend calling your carrier and giving them the factual details you gathered. Again, do not admit fault or place blame until you have consulted with your attorney. However, you should refuse to have your conversation recorded.
Step 6: Keep a Record of All Documents
The police report, witness and police contact information, insurance claims, receipts from property damage and more; yes, accidents can create a lot of paperwork. To prove your losses, I recommend that clients keep a copy of all documents involved in their motor vehicle accident.
Step 7: Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
It’s critical to know what to do if you’re in a car accident with injuries. Protect your health and legal rights by contacting a personal injury attorney after an accident as soon as possible. A personal injury attorney can evaluate your case to determine the compensation you are owed, including:
- Diminished quality of life
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Property damages
- Reduced earnings
- Rehabilitation costs
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, contact Robert L. Cavanaugh, Connecticut Personal Injury Attorney with more than 25 years of expertise, by clicking below or calling (203) 259-5400.