Steps to Follow Immediately After a Motor Vehicle Accident:
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Arizona, here are some “what to do after an accident” procedures to follow that will help aid in your case when you speak with a Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer at Cantor Crane.
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- Bring your vehicle to a stop immediately.
Arizona law requires all drivers involved in an accident, no matter how large or small, to stop their vehicles. The accident victims must exchange info with the other driver involved, and the owner of any property damaged in the accident. If possible, do not move your vehicle. In the event of a minor accident, such as a simple “fender bender”, pull off the road and then exchange information.
- Aid any injured persons.
Most importantly, help anyone injured in the accident. This takes priority over anything else, even before you move your vehicle. Call 911 if someone has been injured or is unconscious. Keep the person comfortable, but never move the injured person unless you are a trained medical professional and know how to properly move an injured person.
- Secure the scene.
If involved in a serious accident, it is best to not move your vehicle until law enforcement or medical personnel have arrived if road conditions are safe enough to keep it in its position. In any event, use common sense when deciding to move your vehicle. If it is a danger to other drivers, do your best to move it safely, or leave it as it is.
- Phone the police.
In order to file an accident report, law enforcement should always be contacted, even in the case of minor accidents. The dispatch operator may notify you that a police officer may not attend the scene if there appears to be less than $500 of damage on each vehicle, and if there were no injuries. Even if this may be the case, it is advised to contact law enforcement anyway to report the accident. An officer my contact you later on so you can file a report over the phone.
- Sign the ticket.
If a police officer determines you to be partially or completely at fault for the accident, you will be issued a citation. You are legally required to sign the ticket, thereby promising you will have a Court appearance at a later time. Be assured that you are not admitting guilt by signing the ticket, it is simply a formality.
- Ascertain the identity of the other drivers.
While exchanging information, be sure to write down the other driver’s contact info, including their address, phone number, and insurance information. Additionally, write down the vehicle’s license plate number, and a small description of any passengers present at the accident. Also identify any witnesses and obtain their names, addresses, and phone numbers from all present witnesses.
Witnesses should ideally stay at the accident site until police arrive at the scene, in most situations people leave after they are confident that medical care is on the way. Witnesses can be crucial to a car accident case, so try to obtain this information as fast as possible and before the witnesses leave the scene. An easy way to obtain contact info is to ask for a business card.
- Write down other information.
Take notes of other information about the nature of the accident. This can usually be done after you arrive back home, or to your destination. Write down detailed descriptions of how the accident occurred. Include the time and the place, weather conditions, and road conditions. Be sure to include a detailed explanation of your driving prior to the crash. It can also be very helpful to draw diagrams of your vehicles and situation before, during, and after the impact. Be sure to only share the accident information with your Arizona accident attorney.
Additionally, the officer who attended the accident scene will give you an “accident information exchange slip”. This document contains information of the other drivers involved in the motor vehicle accident and the number of the police report. Keep record of this as well and present to your attorney during your consultation. Cantor Crane will create a duplicate of your report as soon as possible.
- Refrain from making any statements.
According to Arizona law, you are only required to exchange your address, driver’s license number, vehicle registration, and insurance card copies with the other driver. Other than sharing this information;
- DO NOT make any other statements or comments – these statements can be used against you.
- DO NOT apologize
- DO NOT admit the accident was your fault in any way
- DO NOT say “you simply did not see a driver”
- DO NOT speculate about ANYTHING you are not 100% certain about.
Your personal opinions, such as the speed at impact, may be inaccurate. Anything you say can be used against your case in a civil lawsuit, and with intention to incriminate you.
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- Pay attention to all statements and your surroundings.
Do your best to pay close attention to what the other drivers and witnesses are saying regarding the accident. Vice versa, such statements can be turned against them to help support your claim. If they apologize or say they could not see you, write it down immediately. Apologies are almost always viewed as admissions of guilt.
*Tip: You can use your cell phone as an audio/video recording device.
- Go to the Hospital or doctor immediately.
Following an accident, you may not think you have been injured, as you may only feel sore. However, you may have been seriously injured without realizing it. Factors that occur as a result of accidents, such as adrenaline and stress, can hide the extent of one’s injury. It is quite possible that you may have internal injuries, such as internal bleeding, that you cannot physically see or feel. Only a proper diagnosis from a medical professional can accurately identify a serious problem. If you have been in any prior accidents, let the doctor know. These old injuries could have been worsened in the accident.
- Call Cantor Crane at (602) 254-2701
Here at Cantor Crane, we will do anything in our power to assist you following your accident. If needed, we will travel to you if you are unable to visit our office. We can visit you at home, your place of work, or at the hospital. Rest assured that by contacting Cantor Crane and setting a Free Consultation, you will immediately speak to an experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney. Our staff will gather initial information, but then can route your call to one of our experienced lawyers. We will not only assist you with your accident claim, but we will go above and beyond by making rental car arrangements, obtaining medical assistance and also medical liens, which are integral in preventing you from having to pay any out of pocket costs, until your case is settled.
- Next, call your insurance company.
Even if you were not cited by a police officer at the time of the accident, contact your insurance company. However, do not give them any written or recorded statements until you have consulted with us at Cantor Crane, and received your attorney’s guidance to do so.
- Never give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance Adjustor!
Usually between 24 to 48 hours following the accident, the other driver’s insurance Adjustor will attempt to contact you. The reasoning is because they will try to get a recorded statement that can be used against you. A typical practice is that they will also offer you some form of a minimal settlement in order to avoid the case completely and dispose of it. Do not reveal anything. Only tell them that you are represented by Cantor Crane, and your accident lawyer will contact them on your behalf.
- Photograph the accident scene.
Once you have exited your vehicle, take photos of the accident scene. If you are unable to, ask a family member. Include important markings such as landmarks, signs, buildings, and other distinctive markings that will be easy to identify and describe. Include photos of damage to the environment such as skid marks, damage to landscaping, and small car parts on the ground. Take photos from several distances. Spare no time taking photos of the scene, as time will alter the scene from its original state. Cantor Crane will send our accident investigator to photograph the scene for you if you have already retained us.
- Take pictures of damage to the vehicle.
Once again, immediately start taking pictures of the accident and any elements that can help support your case. Take hundreds if necessary, from every possible angle, close up and far away, and of your vehicle and the damage to it. Photograph any parts that fall from your vehicle. If necessary, Cantor Crane will gladly go to the impound yard and take care of the job for you. There is no maximum amount of photos you can take.
- Record your injuries with photo / video.
Again, take as many photos as you can, even hundreds. Photograph or take video of all cuts, bruises, bandages, casts, abrasions, and/or seat belt marks. If you have been hospitalized as a result of the accident, or cannot move easily, ask a friend or a family member to photograph you in your home or at the hospital.
Take pictures of any equipment you are hooked up to such as I/Vs, heart monitors, traction, and other medical devices. Cantor Crane is happy to, and actually prefers to, have an attorney come to you to photograph your injuries. Also document your injuries over time. Bruises and tissue damage may not show signs of injury until several days after the accident.
- Start a journal.
Create a daily record of all your pain and inconveniences you suffer due to the accident. Take notes of everything, multiple times a day, including your thoughts. Share this information with your Cantor Crane attorney and try to keep it to yourself to be safe. Keep records of time you have had to miss from work, school, and appointments.
If the other person is responsible, you are even entitled to receive compensation for lost wages and loss of bonuses due to missing quotas / goals during your time away. Take down the names and information of company supervisors who are able to support your claims of lost wages and bonuses.