After an accident, you’ll likely be in a state of shock. It is imperative that you remember to remain calm and do the following:
If you were involved in an accident in Las Vegas, you should not hesitate to call your Las Vegas car accident lawyer. However, there are various important steps you need to take directly following the accident if you wish to have a successful personal injury claim.
Assess the situation. Accidents can be devastating so it is important to make sure that you and everyone in your vehicle are okay and safe from further injury. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, this can include driving your car to a safer location where an exit strategy can be implemented without danger of another accident, or if your car is not drivable, assisting all injured persons, children, and elderly out of the vehicle (only if it can be done safely) to a safer location. Then, immediately after you and the occupants of your vehicle are safe from other dangers such as oncoming traffic, fire, and explosions, determine if the police should be called.
Please be aware that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department no longer responds to “minor accidents”. They will typically only come to the scene if one of the parties is requesting emergency medical transport. This is unfortunate for several reasons but only applies in the jurisdiction of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
If you are in an accident on the freeway, for instance, then the Nevada Highway Patrol will still respond, even to minor accidents. The same goes for the Henderson Police department. If you are unsure, just to be safe, feel free to call either 911 or the non-emergency police department line to assess the situation, worst that they can tell you is that they will not respond. Next, (but only if it is safe to do so) investigate any of the other vehicles involved in the accident and determine if they have occupants that need assistance. However, it is important not to talk with them about the circumstances leading up to the accident.
What information should you obtain from the scene of the accident?
After everyone is out of danger and emergency medical service and police help has been summoned, obtain the following:
- The full names of the drivers of all of the vehicles involved
- The insurance company names and policy numbers of all drivers and/or vehicle owners of all the vehicles involved
- The driver’s license numbers and addresses of all of the drivers
- The full names and addresses of any passengers in any of the vehicles
- The full names and addresses of any pedestrians or other parties involved
- The full name, address, and phone number of any witnesses to the accident.
In addition, you should make observations and record notes about the following:
- Did any driver involved in the accident appear to be “under the influence” of alcohol or other drugs? (If so, immediately notify the police or emergency medical service staff present at the scene)
- Did any person involved in the accident report any injury shortly after the accident?
- Was medical assistance rendered at the scene of the accident?
- What injury did the person report? Did anyone say “I’m not hurt”?
- What was the actual location of the accident?
- In what direction were the vehicles traveling just prior to the accident?
- At what time of day did the accident occur?
- What were the weather conditions at the time of the accident?
- Was there anything “wrong” with the vehicles before the accident, such as a broken headlight or brake light?
- Was there any damage to the vehicles as a result of the accident? What parts of the vehicle were damaged?
- Who are the registered owners of the vehicles (names and addresses)?
- Were all vehicles involved in the accident insured? What are the names of the insurance companies and the policy numbers?
- Did any of the vehicles need to be towed from the scene of the accident?
- How did the accident occur?
- Did anyone accept responsibility for the accident, or make a comment such as “It was my fault, I am sorry. I was speeding / not paying attention / not wearing my glasses / distracted / tired / late for work / in a hurry / my coffee had just spilled / I should have seen you but I was on my cell phone / I’ve been taking these pills / my eyesight isn’t what it used to be after dark, etc.”? (NOTE: Never accept responsibility for the accident to another party involved)
- Did the police come? If so, did they issue anyone a ticket? Which officers were present? What are their names and badge numbers?
- Was any of the drivers involved in driving while working, or driving a company-owned vehicle?
You should contact the police department if there is an injury or intoxication is suspected.
Although the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department no longer responds to minor accidents. It is important to contact the police immediately if you are involved in an accident. As discussed above, the accident may have taken place outside of the jurisdiction of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department or other circumstances may be involved that would require police intervention (such as a driver operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs).
Calling the police and having them respond will provide proof of the accident and will allow for an immediate investigation of the scene of the accident. In addition, police should take statements of witnesses and examine the other driver to check for drug or alcohol use. The police can also be a valuable witness to your injury at the scene of the accident and they can assist you in securing an admission of fault from the negligent driver.
Even in minor accidents, resist the temptation to settle with the other driver at the scene of the accident. You should make sure that you have not suffered injuries that do not develop symptoms until days or even weeks after the accident. Settling with the other driver on the spot may prevent you from being able to consult with your doctor and an experienced attorney to make sure that you are aware of all of the avenues of recovery available to you.
You should your insurance company, but do not provide incriminating details
Most auto insurance companies require their policyholders to promptly report every auto accident. It is a contractual obligation that you should not ignore. However, you will want to contact your attorney at the Injury Firm before you give any information to even your own insurance company. Your insurance company will want to gather all of the basic information concerning the accident for its records – whether you are at fault or not. So it is important to discuss these matters with your attorney before talking to your insurance.
Sometimes the insurance company will want your authorization to make a recorded statement concerning the accident. We suggest that if you or your passengers were injured in the accident, or if you believe the insurance company might try to claim you are not covered or you have any concerns about the adequacy of your coverage, you should contact an attorney before you go any further and certainly before you give the insurance company permission to record your conversation (NOTE: You should never give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company without consulting with an attorney).
Due to the contractual obligation to your insurance company, bear in mind, that failure to provide information to your insurance company on a timely basis – your policy will set forth how quickly you must notify the company – could result in loss of coverage for the accident, without it constituting bad faith by the insurer.
You should get immediate medical care
Never hesitate to get checked out by medical professionals even when you feel okay. Many times the onset of physical complaints begins 12 to 24 hours after an accident. Even if you did walk away only feeling “shaken up” after a traumatic accident, you may feel much worse within the next day or so.
It is important that you get medical attention if you feel any pain or discomfort. Many people hope that their pain will go away on their own and wait for several weeks before finally succumbing and going to the doctor. However, that does nothing to promote the success of your personal injury case. Waiting to get treatment is not only not good for your health – it will hurt your chances of obtaining an appropriate settlement for your injuries since there will be no medical record of your injury at the time of the accident. Insurance companies love to point out that victims of car accidents did not immediately seek medical treatment and therefore were not truly injured.
Seeing a doctor following an accident will insure a preliminary diagnosis and perhaps minimize the discomfort and future treatment you may need later. It will also prevent insurance adjuster from pointing out that the initial gap in treatment that defense attorneys love to point out to juries. Kill two birds with one stone, and seek immediate medical treatment following an accident.
Follow the doctor’s advice to the letter and never miss a doctor’s appointment. Do not substitute your judgment for that of an experienced medical professional. If you do, it will be used against you in court. For instance, if you take a week off of physical therapy, either because you are too busy or you mistakenly believe that you are feeling better, then insurance adjusters will attempt to devalue your claim. The bottom line, any gap in treatment should be avoided as it could be truly detrimental to your case.
What should I tell my doctor after a car accident?
When you are reporting your injury to police, paramedics, hospital staff, and doctors, take extra care to identify specific complaints, and do not omit any complaint you may have, no matter how minor. If something does not feel “right” your doctor needs to have this information in order to render an informed medical opinion.
Even if you feel it is “no big thing” or not related to your accident, you still should recite all of your complaints. A dry mouth, a slight headache, and a little dizziness may be evidence of something more serious. Anything that is out of the ordinary is a symptom and should be reported to assist your doctor in making an informed diagnosis.
For example, a patient who has very slight tingling in the fourth and fifth fingers and a minor crick in the neck, may not report the tingling sensation, which could be the sign of major disruption to a cervical disk. If that disk becomes a complete rupture that requires major surgery, it would have been far better to have had the initial medical diagnosis at the time of the accident in order to prove when the onset of the fracture to the outer wall of the disk occurred. Otherwise, the insurance adjusters or defense attorneys will argue that it could have been the result of something unrelated to your accident.
You should document the car accident scene
This should go without saying. You should take many photos of the scene especially since the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department no longer responds to minor accidents. Even if the police do take photos, you should try to take as many pictures of the scene of the accident as possible. You will only have one chance to take some of the most relevant pictures of the accident. Always take multiple photos of the vehicles involved (at all angles), the various approaches to the accident scene, and of the persons involved, (especially if they have suffered an injury).
Plan on taking three times as many photographs as you think you might need, taking shots from multiple angles and locations. By moving around as if on the points of a compass, you will enable an accident reconstructionist to construct a more accurate diagram of the collision. A good quality camera is obviously preferable, but even most cameras integrated with smartphones, such as iPhones or other android smartphones are more than sufficient. As long as the photos depict what happened and the extent of damages to vehicles, it will be valuable to the case.
It is very important to take photos as close in time as possible to the time of the accident. This is particularly important when it is necessary to photograph “impending” skid marks. Tires do not immediately lock-up and change from rolling tires to skidding tires. During the braking process, a tire begins to leave an imprint on the roadway before actually skidding. These marks are “impending” skid marks and are faint marks that can normally be seen on the roadway for only 24 to 48 hours after a collision. An “impending” skid and a skid mark, when taken together, give a more accurate record of the actual speed of a car before braking. Lay a shoe or other easily measured item next to impending skid marks while photographing them so an accident reconstructionist can later compute actual distances based on the photographs.
If you are unable to take photographs, contact our office immediately. At the Injury Firm, we work with investigators and other expert personnel who can often rush to the scene of any serious accident to preserve and document valuable evidence before it is lost forever.
What else should I document at a car accident scene?
In many cases, even though it may not seem important at the time, it later becomes vitally important to have access to the physical evidence of an accident. For example, in cases where a passenger is ejected from the vehicle, it is necessary to examine the seatbelt to determine if it was functioning properly. If the seatbelt is lost because the car which contains it is sold or destroyed, it may be impossible to bring a claim against the seatbelt manufacturer and/or the car manufacturer – something which can make or break the recovery of damages in cases where there is little or no other adequate insurance coverage available.
If the evidence is removed to another location, it is important to put everyone on notice by certified mail, including owners, tow operators, wrecking yards, police impounds, and the like, that they must take every step to preserve important evidence, and the failure to do so will subject them to being sued for allowing evidence to be destroyed. In some cases, we are required to go to court quickly to get a restraining order and preliminary injunction in order to avoid alterations or destructive handling and testing of potentially incriminating evidence.
If you are unable to retain any piece of evidence associated with the accident, contact our office immediately. At the Injury Firm, we work with investigators and other expert personnel who often can rush to the scene of any serious accident and preserve and document valuable evidence before it is lost.
You should let your injury lawyer speak to the at-fault party’s insurance company
Never give an oral statement to the other party’s insurance company. If you do, it may have detrimental effects on your case. If you are contacted, be polite, but decline to talk. Tell them that you have retained a personal injury lawyer or would like to speak to your attorney before talking with them. Insurance companies’ claims adjusters are professional negotiators, with extensive experience in using every psychological technique to maneuver you into giving information that can hurt your claim, including discouraging you from using the professional services of a lawyer. They may also attempt to get you to agree to a settlement offer right off the bat. Unless you want to settle for significantly less than you are entitled to, do not accept this offer!
Claims adjusters are hired because they sound good over the telephone, but they are well trained by insurance company lawyers to ask questions in a manner designed to hurt you and help them. You cannot beat an expert at their game. Do not try it. Kindly tell them you are not prepared to discuss the case and request that they contact the Injury Firm Las Vegas for all matters concerning the accident.
After all of that, you should contact our law firm!
After leaving the scene of an accident, or while still there if you are safely able, you should immediately contact an attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury matters. At the Injury Firm, we will promptly arrange for a free consultation with you to enable us to immediately take action on your behalf, while all of the evidence is still “fresh” in your head. If necessary and feasible, we will have an investigator conduct a thorough analysis of the accident scene so that no evidence goes undetected.
If you were involved in a car accident in Las Vegas then you should hire an experienced attorney as quickly as possible, who can determine the best way to proceed with the adverse insurance company. Call the best car accident lawyer Las Vegas has — call the Injury Firm for a FREE CONSULTATION.