What to Do After a Car Accident in Arkansas
Being involved in a car accident can be terrifying. In the blink of an eye, everything can change. You may be suffering from serious injuries and suddenly unable to provide for your family. Even if you are uninjured, you may find it difficult to sleep, work, and engage in life in the same way. And, your family may be left with unimaginable financial burdens during this time, further complicating your recovery.
When you are injured in a car accident, the steps you take immediately after the crash can have a significant impact on your ability to collect the compensation you deserve. Without the money you need, it may be difficult to recover fully from your injuries or repair your car quickly. Unfortunately, many accident victims in Arkansas don’t know what to do after a car accident.
What to do Immediately After an Accident
What you do immediately after an accident is critical to recovering the money you need to put your life back together again. Even if you believe you are uninjured after a crash, follow these steps:
- Stay calm
- Turn on hazard lights
- Get to safety (sidewalk or median)
- Call 911
- Don’t admit fault
- Exchange information
- Collect evidence
- Gather eyewitness information
- Get a medical examination
- Call your insurance company to report accident
- Call an experienced car accident attorney
If you are uninjured, be sure to collect as much evidence at the crash scene as you can. Snap pictures of the crash site, damage to the vehicles, and any other evidence, such as skid marks or intersection debris. Gather eyewitness information, such as their names, phone numbers, and license plate numbers. Make sure you give the police a detailed account of the events but be careful not to admit fault. Even a simple “I’m Sorry” can be used against you in court.
What Not to Do After An Accident
It’s important not to make the following common mistakes after an auto accident. After a crash you must avoid:
Accepting the insurance company’s first settlement offer
In the days or weeks after the crash, you may be offered a settlement offer from the insurance company. It is common for an insurance company negotiator to extend what may actually be a “lowball” offer. Never accept an offer before discussing it with your attorney. Doing so can prevent you from being able to seek the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Talking about the accident on social media
Insurance adjusters look for ways to reduce or deny claims. They can use social media as a means to do so. Talking about the crash online is not wise. Your words can be twisted and taken out of context. Social media information can be used to make it look like you have admitted fault or that you have unwittingly revealed details that are contrary to your later representation. Don’t give an insurance adjuster an opportunity to twist your words to try and nullify your chances of getting the money you deserve.
Minor Accidents vs Major Accidents
Minor car accidents should be treated differently than major car accidents. When a minor car accident occurs, the damage mostly occurs to the vehicles and occupants sustain few (if any) injuries. If your car is safe to drive, move your vehicle to safety and pull over to the side of the road. If you can’t drive your vehicle, then leave your vehicle where it is and get yourself to a safe and secure location. Even if your accident is considered a fender bender, you must call 911 and report the accident to the police. A police report is invaluable after any crash. Even if you don’t think you’re injured, go see a medical professional to rule out any possibility of whiplash, migraines or other minor injuries that may not initially be visible.
In a major accident, however, your first priority should be to obtain medical help as quickly as possible. Call 911 immediately so that injured passengers can receive prompt emergency medical treatment. After a major crash, minutes can make the difference between life and death, and injuries that are not treated quickly can result in life-threatening conditions and permanent disability.
Once you have been stabilized, your next call should be to an experienced Arkansas car accident attorney. Major car accidents require immediate legal assistance and your attorney will be able to protect your rights every step of the way, so you can focus on your recovery.
Interacting With Police Officers
Immediately after an accident, many drivers want to simply “handle it on their own” and avoid calling the police. This is a mistake. By law, all drivers who have been involved in an accident that involved property damage in excess of $1000 or bodily injury must report that accident to the police. Calling 911 after an accident ensures that the police arrive on the scene, view the damage to your vehicles, and write out a comprehensive police report of the events. This police report will be invaluable when you file a claim against the “at fault” driver. Without a police report, it’s just your word against theirs. Even if your accident is minor, you must report the accident to the Arkansas Office of Driver Services within 30 days of the crash.
When talking to the police, be truthful about what happened and answer all questions they ask. Stay calm and choose your words carefully. Never admit fault, however, even if you believe you were to blame for the accident. Remember, you may not have all the facts regarding the accident so it’s wise not to speculate on how the accident occurred. Let the police investigate the accident for themselves. If you disagree with the police report or with their conclusions, call an experienced Arkansas car accident attorney immediately.
Car Accident Injuries
Car accident injuries can be devastating and may result in permanent disability and chronic long-term pain and suffering. Go see an emergency medical professional as soon as you are able for a full medical examination. Many injuries, such as soft tissue injuries, can only be diagnosed with an MRI or CT Scan.
Your doctor may prescribe medications or physical therapy to help with your injuries. If they do, be certain you are following your doctor’s order precisely and attending all therapy sessions. Failure to follow doctor’s orders may signal to the insurance company that you are not as injured as you claim to be. Keep records of all expenses, including mileage to and from appointments and therapies. Your lawyer will need to take these expenses into account when determining a fair and appropriate settlement.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company should pay for all of your medical expenses and for any damage done to your vehicle. Yet, they will want to pay as little as possible for your injuries. Your lawyer will work with your medical team to ensure that all of your medical expenses are accounted for before you agree to any settlement.
Taking Legal Action after a Car Accident
Your attorney will negotiate with the “at-fault” driver’s insurance company to ensure that you receive the money you need after a car accident. This often includes compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Long-term care costs
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Pain and suffering
If a settlement can’t be reached, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit against the “at-fault” driver and your case will proceed to court. While every attempt will be made to settle your lawsuit out of court, your lawyer will be ready and willing to go to trial to obtain a favorable outcome.
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