While it’s never something any of us want to deal with, it is important to know what to do when you’re in a severe traffic accident. In the year 2018 alone, there were 3,639 deaths as a result of auto accidents in Texas, and 6,056 instances where serious injuries were suspected based on report data. While these numbers are less than last year’s statistics by approximately 2%, it only highlights how important it is to know how to respond in a severe auto accident.
The Moments After The Accident
The initial moments after an auto accident are oftentimes extremely disorienting. Depending on the nature of the crash, and how much your vehicle moved as a result either by being spun or worse yet if your vehicle was rolled, your sense of direction can be completely thrown off. The very first thing you should do is to regain your bearings. Do not leave your vehicle until you have an idea of where you are, and get a general assessment of your surroundings. Check yourself for any injuries, locate your phone and personal belongings like your wallet, and call for emergency services immediately.
Once you’ve checked yourself out, if you can safely move without risking further injury, check on the other driver to make sure they’re alright. If you don’t feel like you can safely leave your vehicle for whatever reason, be it extreme dizziness, pain in your limbs or joints, or other reasons, stay in your vehicle and wait for emergency services arrive unless it is not safe to do so (for example if there is excessive smoke coming from the engine or if the car has ignited). Make a mental note of any symptoms you experience, such as pain, dizziness, aches, and stiffness, especially in the neck and back, and any cuts or bruises. The first reason you want to do this is so that emergency services can properly prioritize treatment, as they’ll likely try to stabilize your neck and back if you complain of stiffness and pain in those areas before attempting to treat your more minor injuries. The second reason you’ll want to do this is so that your injuries are properly recorded on the police report. Often times, insurance companies will refer to the police report when assessing injuries, as it provides a summary of all the basic injuries associated with each person involved.
Dealing With Emergency Services
Depending on the severity of your injuries and if you’re even still relatively coherent after the accident, EMS will usually take you to the hospital via ambulance for treatment shortly after they arrive. The police may take a brief statement from you at the scene, but depending on your injuries, they will usually follow up with you later on for a statement. Notify EMS of any allergies or existing health conditions you may have, or if you have a medical bracelet simply draw their attention to it for reference. Your medical coverage and insurance will usually cover your ambulance bill along with basic medical treatment up to a certain threshold. A Personal Injury Protection (PIP) representative will be assigned to your case and follow up with you, usually within one to two days of the accident.
The First Few Days After
Despite how incredibly stressful and impactful the day of the accident can be, the next few days are arguably more important in regards to making sure everything goes smoothly for you. You will receive various follow-up calls in regards to the accident from several individuals. As soon as you are lucid enough to begin planning and organizing, get a file or folder as well as a notebook to help keep yourself organized through the insurance process. As soon as you can, write down the events of the accident as clearly and in as much detail as you can remember. The more time passes and the more you discuss the accident with others, such as the police and insurance representatives, the less sure you’ll be about the events of the accident. Having written down the events will help keep you from second-guessing yourself. There are three primary groups that will call you after the accident:
Your PIP rep:
Your PIP rep is the one who will help walk you through the medical side of the claim. They will review all of your medical bills and pay for anything that PIP covers. This is where that file comes in. Save copies of all of your bills and treatment details in chronological order. If anything goes missing or doesn’t make it to your PIP rep, you’ll always have duplicates to forward if need be.
Your Liability Adjuster:
Your Liability Adjuster will be handling the auto side of the claim. They will ask you for your statement as well as assist in repairing your vehicle or paying the value in the case of a total loss. They will also assist with pursuing the other party for damages if they are liable.
The Third Party Carrier:
This is the adjuster representing the other party in the accident. You can decline to speak with them if you do not feel comfortable and would rather your insurance handle things for you.
Hiring an Attorney
While fatal crashes in the Austin, Texas area are on the decline, there are a number of serious injuries that result from the reported non-fatal accidents. If treatments and diagnostics through your medical care providers have revealed any potential head or brain injuries, this is when to talk to an Austin brain injury lawyer. The continuing treatment and medical costs for these kinds of injuries will likely far exceed the PIP limits on your policy, meaning you’ll need to pursue the other party’s Bodily Injury coverage directly. Having an attorney early in that process will ensure that they will work towards pursuing compensation from the start so you can focus more on recovery as opposed to getting them up to speed on the case.
Serious auto collisions can be an extremely stressful and trying experience, but the key to persevering through is to remain calm and be extremely organized through the entire process. These cases and claims can span several years, depending on how extensive treatment is, and since leaving it up to your memory alone can be unreliable, keeping detailed records will make the process a lot less stressful, especially if some bills or paperwork aren’t transferred properly or end up going missing. It is almost always a good idea to retain an attorney in cases of severe injury as well, since there are things your PIP coverage excludes that you may be able to pursue the other party directly for, such as pain and suffering.