If you've never been involved in an accident, then you're one of the lucky ones. In the United States there are millions of car crashes every year, many involving fatalities. In the 2016 alone -- the most recent statistical information available from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety -- West Virginia saw a total of 269 fatalities in car and truck crashes, along with are thousands of injuries in crashes every year.
Crashes are on the rise with people often texting and driving. Persons are 23 times more likely to cause a crash if texting and driving. Unfortunately, West Virginia continues to be above the national average in crashes caused by drunk driving. If you are injured in a crash through no fault of your own, you should protect your rights. From fender benders to fatal collisions, our state has seen its share of crashes. But no matter how many occur each year, few people ever fully know what steps they need to take after a crash.
Most accidents happen quickly and without warning, and it isn't until after the shock wears off that people find themselves asking that all important question, "What should I do now?"
1. Call the police and carefully detail what has happened. The sooner you call police and get your accident on record, the better. Over time, you may forget important details so make sure you're detailing your crash while things are still fresh in your mind.
2. Don't refuse medical attention. Don't immediately assume you're okay simply because you don't have any cuts or bruises. Some injuries, including whiplash, can take hours or even days to emerge. It's best to let medical professionals examine you. It is also beneficial to document your condition if you need to file a claim in the days or weeks to come.
3. When it's safe, take pictures of the damage. In addition to giving a statement to police, don't forget to take pictures of your vehicle damage. These pictures will be incredibly important when it comes time to file an insurance claim.
4. Take down the other driver's insurance information. Be sure to get the other driver's insurance information. Don't just trust their word that they get you the info later or be cooperative later on. The police should also gather this information and include it in their crash report.
5. Keep a journal after the crash. Between conversations with the insurance company and trips to see the doctor, your mind may be spinning after a crash, which can lead to the loss of important details. Writing things down in a journal --including new symptoms or issues you're experiencing when dealing with an insurer -- can help if you decide to seek legal help. Generally it is not a good idea to give a recorded statement to an insurance company. Talk to a West Virginia car accident lawyer for advice before giving any recorded statements.
6. If you start feeling overwhelmed about legal matters, don't hesitate to contact an attorney. You can't be expected to know everything after an accident, especially when it comes to the ins and outs of the law. Hiring an attorney can ensure your rights are being protected and that you're getting the full and fair compensation you deserve. Insurance companies know the law and try to take advantage of injured people who do not have legal representation.
Most importantly if you are injured in a crash or a loved one has been killed you should contact a West Virginia car accident lawyer for a free consultation to find out your rights. At Gellner Law Offices, we'd like to help!