Hopefully auto accidents are rare occurrences in your life. But nearly everyone will go through an auto accident, large or small, at some point in their life. You need to know what to do, not just for legal purposes, but also for insurance purposes. Here are some tips you need to know to handle the aftermath of an auto accident:
Check for Injuries
If it is possible, pull over to the shoulder of the road to stay out of traffic. Then, check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If it is safe to do so and you are able to, go to the other car and check on the other occupants. Call 911 to report the accident and any injuries that happened. Follow the instructions of the operator.
After administering any necessary first aid, the next step is to exchange information with the driver. You will need their name, phone number, and insurance information. This will allow you to file a claim for the accident. Give them your information as well. Make a note if any of the drivers do not have insurance.
Do not claim that the accident was your fault, or their fault, to the other driver. That’s for the auto insurance people and the courts to determine. Claiming an accident was your fault could jeopardize your claim.
Document the Scene
Take photographs of the scene and the damage to your vehicle. This can serve as evidence for the insurance companies, and any potential court case you might file, about what happened. It will also help the insurance companies make a better estimate of what needs to be covered.
Give a Report
When the officer arrives, give your report of what happened. Be truthful and complete about the facts of the situation. Assuming nothing has happened that would require an arrest, such as a DUI, the officer will give you information that will let you contact the police station for progress on the investigation. The police should also be able to help tow your vehicle, if needed.
Gather Financial Documentation
Once your car is at a mechanic, get an estimate for the repairs. If there were injuries, get an estimate for medical bills as well, if you can. You may wish to call a lawyer at this point. They can advise you on what other documentation you might need to make a strong case to the insurance company.
Call the Insurance Company
Either on your own with good documentation, or with the help of a lawyer, contact the insurance company to report the incident and make a claim to cover the costs. Be prepared for a lot of questions and to file a statement. You might have to wait while the insurance company does their own investigation by calling the other party and the police to get their sides of the story.
When the insurance company comes forward with a settlement offer, your lawyer can help you determine whether or not it is a fair offer. Their first offer isn’t always the best one, but having a lawyer on your side can improve the likelihood that they won’t lowball you. If the offer is really unfair or violates the policy, your lawyer can assist you in fighting the offer in court.
Did you know that distracted driving is one of the most dangerous things you can on the road? Yes, even more than drunk driving! One day, texting while driving might be as socially unacceptable as drunk driving. But that day hasn’t arrived yet, which is why we’re seeing cases like these:
- Four bus drivers in Knox County have been charged under a new law that prohibits school bus drivers from using electronic devices while on the road. The new law now mandates 30-day jail sentences for people convicted of this crime. Hamilton County was the first test of the law, but that case also involved vehicular homicide charges when six children were killed in the crash.
- You know that solar eclipse coming up soon? TDOT has issued a public service announcement warning people not to stop their cars on the interstate or otherwise interfere with traffic while the eclipse is occurring. They are worried that people will wear eclipse glasses and drive down the roads. They are also expecting a huge increase in traffic volume since Tennessee is within the eclipse totality path.
On a much more serious note, traffic fatalities are up in Chattanooga over last year due to distracted driving. The city has the second highest traffic fatality rate in the state this year. So far this year, 65 traffic deaths have occurred, which is 13 more than this time last year.
What can be done to control distracted driving? These days even our vehicles seem like they’re designed to distract with new touchscreen interfaces and all sorts of connectivity options to our wireless devices. From the individual driver standpoint, there are a lot of things you can do:
- The best thing is to turn off all wireless devices in the vehicle and ask your passengers to do the same. We’ve trained ourselves to feel like we need to respond to every buzz and beep, so shutting a device completely off is the best route. Consider your car like you would a movie theater.
- If you must keep your phone on, use hands-free devices so you’ll never have to pick up your phone to use it. Keep your calls short and to the point. If traffic starts to get heavy, hang up. It’s better to stay safe.
- Don’t eat in the car if you can help it. While it may not be illegal like texting, it is a form of distraction.
- Keep your eyes out for other distracted drivers. Just because you’re safe doesn’t mean that the other drivers around you are!
If you are injured in an accident, any evidence that the other driver was distracted at the time will help your case considerably. The chances that your contributions to a percentage of fault in the crash will be much lower, which means more potential compensation. Likewise, if you’re shown to be distracted before an injury accident, your compensation will be at risk.
Don’t think you can hide it, either. Police are working on ways to detect whether you were using an electronic device prior to a crash. New York is examining a new device they’re calling a “textalyzer” that does just that. It’s still under development, but if it works well and holds up in court, it could create a chilling effect on distracted driving. Ultimately, that makes us all safer.
Have you ever driven down a road and had a motorcycle come up between the lanes? It’s common in California and in several other countries, but it’s not so common here. It looks really dangerous to a driver, but motorcyclists say that this practice, called lane splitting, can actually save lives.
An article from Clarksville Online talks about the practice. Basically, if the traffic is slowed or stopped, it’s very dangerous for motorcyclists. People get quite distracted during traffic jams and put riders at risk. Also, it is hard to start and stop quickly on a motorcycle.
In fact, around 60% of the motorcycle crashes in the country happen in moderate to heavy traffic. This is from the Hurt Report, a comprehensive motorcycle crash study report that is still the best of its kind despite its age. But if riders are able to split lanes, so the theory goes, then they can get out of the way of dangerous slow-moving traffic and clear up spaces for others on the road.
There are other advantages as well, according to proponents. Riders going between lanes are much easier to see in side mirrors rather than moving in and out of a blind spot. Motorcyclists will also be less fatigued from starting and stopping all the time. Also, they will be at less risk for exhaust exposure and heat-related conditions that can injure a biker caught in a traffic jam with no AC. Finally, the chances of a rear-end collision are greatly reduced. Even at low speeds, a collision with a motorcyclist can cause life-long injury or death.
However, as of this writing, lane splitting is only explicitly legal in one state, California. A few others states have pending legislation on it. Tennessee had a bill in 2015 to allow the practice but it died in the legislature. Studies done in California have suggested that motorcyclists who do practice lane splitting, also known as lane sharing or filtering, are at a much lower risk of trauma.
But if it were to happen, American drivers would have to go through an adjustment period. What may be normal practice in other countries (and California) could be a shock to a driver who doesn’t expect to have motorcycles passing them to the left and right between vehicles. Also, not all motorcyclists approve of the practice because it can seem rather dangerous. And there is the chance of some motorcyclists taking unnecessary risks or showing off between the lanes.
Right now, if you are a motorcyclist and got into an accident and you were lane splitting, it would be difficult to achieve a favorable outcome. Lane splitting is prohibited by Tennessee law. If you believe that this is a safe practice, you will need to continue the fight to get the law changed. Until then, please take care when you’re out riding by following these safety tips:
- Always wear full protective gear, including leathers and a helmet, to minimize the risk of injury
- Hydrate yourself well before you get onto the road, and take into account the heat. Carry extra water if necessary.
- Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Pull over if you feel them coming on and seek help.
- Take care in traffic jams to avoid rear-end collisions. If you feel sick from exhaust fumes, try to leave the traffic jam at the earliest opportunity and seek fresh air.
Stay safe while riding, and don’t lane split until it’s legal!
When you are involved in a trucking accident there are often special circumstances that only an experienced attorney can handle effectively. Automobile accident laws use a combination of traffic laws, insurance laws, and personal injury laws in order to get the most out of the justice system to ensure that the victims involved can receive the most out of their claims or cases.
How a Trucking Accident Case Works
If you have been injured in a trucking accident you will get more protection and feel more secure when you hire an experienced attorney to handle your case. Attorneys who specialize in personal injury cases dealing with trucking and auto accidents are assigned to you case and can negotiate with the other parties involved and they can determine who should pay for the damages that incurred. An attorney can work with the insurance and company if the truck is a commercial vehicle.
Court officials and insurance companies will collect all of the data together in order to conclude exactly what happened when the accident occurred. This can be completed using police reports, photos, and other evidence, and then use the local traffic laws as well as legal concepts such as to determine who caused the accident. Whoever is determined to be at fault for the accident is the person who will have to pay for any lost wages, medical and property expenses, as well as any harm related to pain and suffering.
There isn’t an exact science to calculating what a person will be entitled to receiving since there are cases where both drivers are at fault for the accident and all states have slightly different rules associated with certain situations where there is more than one person responsible for the accident. Some states require that one party pays all the bills while other states require the two parties to split the damages and fees according to the amount each party is to blame, per the accident history.
What Role Does Auto Insurance Play?
Thanks to insurance policies put in place, most people do not pay for all of the damages stemming from a trucking collision out of pocket. Automobile insurance may pay to repair at least some of the damages or replacement cost for all or some of the vehicles involved, and may pay for some medical expenses as well. Insurance companies may also pay for an attorney, if necessary, although in most of these cases the clients have an attorney selected by the insurance company rather than choosing their own attorney to represent them. State laws also vary widely on the extent and types of insurance coverage that is required for a person to drive a commercial truck.
How To Determine Who Is At Fault?
Determining who pays for the damages after a collision with a truck is slightly more complicated than other kinds of accidents because trucks are often commercially owned, so the liability insurance policies may rest not only on the driver, but on the owner of the truck as well. The laws regarding who is at fault may vary depending on the types of vehicles involved and the coverage. Most semi-truck drivers are usually professionally trained and certified, and have to drive more carefully than most other drivers. Determining who pays for the damage after a collision with a semi-truck or commercial truck is slightly more complicated than other kinds of accidents due to the particulars involved in trucks that are commercially owned.
For more information regarding personal liability and a trucking accidents, contact Dennis & King Law Firm today!
If you want to shorten the amount of time you spend on a personal injury claim it is best to hire an attorney to work through all the details of the claim for you so you can be sure the claim is settled fairly. Contacting your auto insurance company immediately after you are in an accident without the assistance of an attorney can affect your compensation, especially if this is your first time.
Some important factors that your insurance adjuster will review include:
- The information from the police report.
Tip: Make sure you make a police report immediately after the accident occurs.
- If and how long it took for you to seek medical attention.
Tip: Visit the emergency room or your physician as soon as possible after an accident if you are injured.
- All pre-existing injuries that you listed as being a result of the accident.
Tip: Be sure to have your physician take new x-rays of the injuries you’ve listed as a result of the accident so these can be compared to the pre-existing injuries.
- Any DUI/DWI charges or citations related to the accident.
- Statements that you make to other drivers or passengers after the accident.
Tip: Avoid making promises or statements of blame and keep any comment you make factual about what happened during the accident.
- All witness testimonials.
- Photographs that were taken during the scene of the accident.
- Valid copies of paychecks and other documents that validate any wages you lost due to the accident.
- Details regarding the limitations of your insurance policy.
The Importance Of Collecting Evidence
Solid evidence of the accident makes your case for a personal injury claim stronger. You want to prepare as much documentation as possible when preparing to submit a claim to the car insurance company. You can gather evidence in the days following a car accident.
Some helpful tips that are sure to help you prepare enough evidence to support your personal injury claims.
- Witness statements and contact information. If there were any witnesses, be sure to collect any information witnessed at the time of the accident. If you can contact them as soon as possible and get them to write down what they observed down on paper that would work in your favor as well.
- Record your injuries by taking photos, getting medical attention, and collecting all medical evidence of your injuries.
- Take notes of the accident as soon as you are physically able to, preferably right after the accident.
- At the scene of the accident, make sure to take pictures of damages, tire markings on the pavement, and anything else that would be useful to use as evidence of your claim. You may notice something, such as a faded or missing traffic sign that led you to make a driving mistake, or if you were injured, make sure to take pictures of where you were injured, if possible.
- Keep physical evidence if it contributed to the accident. Examples include torn pieces of clothing, rocks or debris that made you swerve out of the way, etc.