7 Steps to Take After You’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident in Salt Lake City
After you get into a car accident in Utah, dozens of questions start racing through your head. What are your responsibilities at the accident scene? Do you need to call the police? What should you tell your insurance company? Should you accept the first settlement offer you receive? Should you get medical care immediately, or wait to see if your pain will subside on its own? Hopefully, you will never find yourself involved in a crash or collision; but if the worst does occur, this article from Salt Lake City car accident lawyer Darwin Overson will help you understand the basic do’s and don’ts after an automotive accident occurs.
7 Things You Should Do After an Automotive Accident in UT
Utah drivers should follow these six important steps after getting into an automotive accident:
- Immediately seek medical help for any injury victims. Not only is this basic common sense, it’s actually mandated by state law. Utah Code § 41-6a-401.3, which deals with injury accidents, requires drivers to:
- Remain at the scene. Try not to obstruct traffic, but do not move your vehicle unless it is safe to do so. Avoiding further injury is more important than avoiding a temporary traffic jam.
- Notify the nearest police department or Sheriff’s Office immediately. This is also important for getting a police accident report, which can help provide leverage in settlement negotiations later.
- Call an ambulance for anyone who was injured.
- Exchange your information with the other driver. This is another one of your legal responsibilities after an accident under Utah Code § 41-6a-401.7. Make sure to obtain the other driver’s name, address, vehicle registration number, and insurance contact information. You’re also required to disclose the same information about yourself.
- Document the accident scene. Make sure to get as many photographs of the crash site as possible, ideally from a variety of angles. If possible, shoot video footage along with still images. If you need to move your vehicle, try to get photos or video footage beforehand, assuming it is safe to do so. Don’t forget to document the area around the vehicle as well. Evidence like tire skid marks, flattened patches of grass, or malfunctioning street lights often say more about a crash than the vehicles themselves.
- Get treatment for your injuries as soon as possible. An accident floods your body with adrenaline, which temporarily masks pain. Once the adrenaline begins to wear off, you might find that your injuries are more serious than you had initially realized. You simply cannot be certain of the extent of your injuries until you have been evaluated by a doctor.
- Inform your insurance company. Notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. Keep your statements minimal, and do not volunteer any extra information about what may or may not have occurred. Do not feel pressured into making any recorded statements.
- Keep detailed records of insurance communications. Keep an organized folder detailing every communication you have with your insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, the other driver, and any other parties who were involved in the accident. Include times, dates, names, phone numbers, and a summary of what was discussed during the conversation. Save all email correspondence. Always make scans or take screenshots for extra backup in case computer files or physical documents are lost.
- Contact an experienced Utah personal injury lawyer for help. Your lawyer will handle negotiating with the insurance company, obtaining documentation, interviewing witnesses, analyzing physical evidence, and taking care of the legal work on your behalf.
The Don’ts: 5 Mistakes to Avoid After Being Hurt in a Crash or Collision
Once you know what steps to take, it’s just as important to understand what you shouldn’t do. Be sure to avoid these five common mistakes people often make after getting into an accident:
- Don’t leave the scene of the accident prematurely. If anyone else has been injured in the accident, it is absolutely mandatory that you remain at the scene, notify the police, and call 9-1-1 for medical assistance. If you leave the scene without taking these actions, you risk criminal prosecution for “hit and run” (leaving the scene of an accident). In some cases, hit and run is charged as a felony.
- Don’t say you’re sorry. Resist the urge to apologize after being involved in an accident, even if you think you may have been partially at fault. It may feel a bit rude or uncomfortable to withhold an apology, but a statement as simple as “I’m so sorry, I didn’t even see you there” could later be interpreted as an admission of liability.
- Don’t accept the first settlement offer. Never forget that insurance companies are in this business to make a profit. It may feel tempting to grab at that initial settlement offer before it’s taken off the table, but it’s important that you don’t agree to a settlement until you speak with an attorney. Initial offers are almost always far too low, especially since you may not realize how severely you were actually injured. (Whiplash injuries, for instance, often take several days to develop noticeable symptoms.) However, with all of that information in mind…
- Don’t try to hide the accident from your insurer. No one wants to deal with an insurance hassle, least of all the risk of an increased premium. Nonetheless, it is crucial to disclose your accident to your insurer, even if the accident was minor. If you fail to report the accident in a timely manner, the insurer could attempt to deny coverage.
- Don’t discard any medical evidence. Dig out an old shoebox or storage bin and set it aside for medical evidence, such as casts, emptied prescription pill bottles, and prescription slips from your physician. These items will help your attorney demonstrate the severity of your injuries.
For Help with Your Car Accident Claim Call an Injury Attorney in Utah
If you or one of your family members was hurt in a car accident in Salt Lake City or the surrounding area, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost earnings, and other hardships caused by your injuries. Call automotive accident attorney Darwin Overson at (801) 895-3143 today to set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation. Darwin also handles Utah truck accident and motorcycle accident claims.