Accidents happen every day in Las Vegas, and they keep car accident lawyers busy. According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, 22,285 injury crashes and 290 fatal crashes took place in one recent year. If you were never in an accident before, the whole experience can feel overwhelming. Being prepared and knowing the steps to take in the aftermath of an accident can help keep you safe and ensure that you get the care that you need. Here are some suggestions for protecting your wellbeing and your rights during that difficult time.
At the Scene of the Accident
After an accident, it’s natural for emotions to run high. Fear, anger, and confusion are all to be expected. But it is important not to let these emotions overwhelm you. Keeping a level head is one of the most important things you can do after an accident. Showing your emotions can make interactions with the other driver difficult and could affect the outcome of any later legal action you take. Let’s take a few dos and don’ts at the scene of an accident:
Do: Move Over
The first thing you need to do after an accident is move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic. This will help keep you and other drivers safe. Move your vehicle to the side of the road and turn on your hazards. If you are on a busy street, it may be easier to move to a nearby side street.
Don’t: Leave the Accident Scene
Nevada law requires all drivers to remain at the scene of an accident and render necessary care. Leaving the scene of an accident can result in fines or jail time. If the injury results in injury or death, you could face felony charges for leaving the scene, regardless of who was at fault.
Do: Exchange Information
Exchanging insurance isn’t just a courtesy to the other driver, it’s the law. Even if the other driver is at fault, you need to provide your personal information. Under Nevada law, the other driver has the right to request your name, address, and vehicle registration number. The law also states that either driver may request to see the other’s driver’s license. In addition to this information, you should also request:
- The other driver’s insurance information, including the company name, policy number, and phone number
- The driver’s phone number
- The names of other passengers/witnesses
Don’t: Share Too Much Information
Remember the emotions we talked about earlier? This is where keeping your emotions in check comes into play. When you allow your emotions to control the situation, it opens you up to making mistakes. There are two things you need to keep in mind when you are talking to the other driver:
- Don’t confront the other driver: Yelling and screaming at the other driver will not help the situation. In fact, it can make things much worse. If the other driver is under the influence or emotionally unstable, it could escalate the situation and put you in physical danger.
- Don’t admit blame: Do not say anything that would indicate your own fault for the accident, even “I’m sorry.” It’s easy to feel confused and think that you may have in some way contributed to the accident. But saying things like “I didn’t see you,” may prompt the other driver to hide the fact that they were following to close or they ran a red light. Remember, any statement you make can become a part of a personal injury case.
Do: Gather Evidence
Beyond exchanging information, gathering evidence is one of the most important things you will do after an accident. Once you leave the scene, odds rise that important evidence will disappear. One of the best ways to gather evidence is by taking pictures with your camera phone. Pictures to include are:
- Tire tracks and property damage: skid marks, bent signs, grooves in grass or dirt, etc
- Both vehicles: Be sure to include pictures of the whole vehicle as well as close-ups of any damage. The close-ups will prove the extent of the damage and help reconstruct the accident. While showing damage is important, it’s also important to show where damage does not exist. This will prevent the other party from claiming that other parts of the vehicle were involved in the accident.
- The other driver’s license plate: You’d be surprised how often claim that the pictures of an accident are not their car.
If there are witnesses, write down their contact information. Better yet, if you have a phone, store their number in your contacts. Your personal injury attorney may want to speak to any witnesses to help build your case. Write down the exact location of the accident (it’s easy to forget street names). Not only is the location of the accident required in a police report, but in the event of conflicting information, your attorney will be able to use the address to contact nearby businesses to see if there is any surveillance footage of the accident.
The Hours and Days After an Accident
What you do in the hours and days after an accident is just as important as what you do at the accident scene. If you are experiencing any pain or unusual symptoms, seek medical treatment right away. Urgent care is usually your best option in non-emergency situations. After receiving medical care, there are a few more things you will need to take care of:
File a Police Report
The law requires drivers to file a police report for any accident when there is an injury, death, or property damage of $750 or more. You must file this report within 10 days of the accident. If an officer reported to the scene of the accident, no further action is necessary regarding a police report. If there were no police present, you can submit this report to your local DMV office.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. A personal injury attorney can help you coordinate medical care, gather evidence, and negotiate a fair settlement. If you have questions about your recent accident, contact a Nevada car accident lawyer for more information.