Assuming that you are conscious and able to move about, you’re likely to be stunned and confused. If you smell smoke your vehicle may be on fire. In that case, you don’t have a lot of time. Check to see if your passengers are conscious and able to move. If so, exit the car and extract the passengers carefully as they may have suffered neck and spine injuries. You don’t want to aggravate any injuries, but it is necessary to get them to the safety before the car burns.
If you are certain that your car is not likely to catch fire, stay put and call 911. Tell the operator where you are. Do not tell them the facts of the case yet as chances are you may not know all the facts at this point, and you don’t want to make a mistake.
If the car is drivable and its position poses a hazard to yourself or other drivers and passengers, by all means, move it to a safe location – usually beside the road in the breakdown lane.
If your vehicle’s location does not pose a danger, say put and wait for help. Keep your phone on. If anyone is bleeding and you don’t have to move them, apply pressure with a piece of cloth or clothing.
If you are mobile and you don’t have to take care of anyone near you, check on the other driver and her passengers. Ask them if they are bleeding. If so, apply pressure. If not, do not move them. You do not want to make matters worse. On the other hand, you don’t want someone to expire if first aid could’ve saved her.
If the other driver and her passengers are able, and only if they are able, ask for their names and contact information. Don’t forget to get that information from your passengers as well as they are also witnesses to the accident. If there are any witnesses not involved in the accident, i.e., bystanders, do the same. This information could be very important if a question liability or other issues should arise.
Also, exchange insurance information. Make it a habit to keep paper and pens in your vehicle for this and other contingencies. When help arrives, direct them to the people who are injured.
After the injured are cared for, the police will probably want you to make a statement. If you have been drinking or taking drugs or both, politely state you refuse to answer any questions and that you want a lawyer. Even if you are not under arrest that should be enough to back the police off. Always be polite and say, “with all due respect,” to official personnel.
Refuse to take any field sobriety test, breathalyzer or blood test.
Then call our office call me at 233-2000 or 591-1114 immediately.
Even if DUI is not an issue, you still must be careful what you say because any statement you make could be used against you in any future proceeding. Have your license and registration ready.
After her investigation, the responding officer will give you what’s called a form FR – 10 – Notice of Requirement. Make several Xerox copies of this document when you get a chance. It contains important insurance information as well as the responding officer’s opinion as to who was at fault for the accident.
Note, however, that this is only the officer’s opinion. Unless she saw the wreck she’s really in no credible position to render an opinion. Also, remember that the responding officer is likely not an accident reconstruction expert. But the fact is that in most cases the officer’s opinion regarding liability is given weight.
If you retain a personal injury attorney he will also need the FR-10 for his file.
If you have been in a car accident, you should go to the emergency room, even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt. After a traumatic event, many people are hurt and don’t even know it. This is due to an influx of adrenaline which masks the pain your injury causes – a survivor response that facilitates your escaping dangerous situations. It’s when you feel safe that the adrenaline rush subsides, and the pain “blossoms” as it were.
A thorough examination by the ER staff should rule out any major injuries. If, however, you’re still feeling pain in any part of your body, schedule an appointment with your family doctor immediately, and if you don’t have a family doctor, call us, and we will get you the medical care that you need.
If you been have been injured as a result of a car wreck call us for a free consultation: we’ll explain your rights and what services we can provide.
In the meantime, remember to always drive defensively, and never drink and drive.