What to Do if You’re the Victim of an Auto Accident
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, in 2014 there were 35,802 auto accidents in Phoenix, 11,596 of which involved injuries. In fact, the National Safety Council reported that in the first half of 2015, auto accidents, including injury accidents, are up nationwide. So do you know what to do if you’re the victim of an auto accident in Phoenix?
Arizona law requires that you stop and remain at the scene of the accident. If you leave, you may be subject to criminal prosecution. You must provide your name, address, telephone number, vehicle registration number, and your driver’s license to the other party or parties in the accident. You should also exchange insurance information and take down the contact information of any witnesses.
If the accident involves an injury, you are required to notify the police, the sheriff’s department, or the highway patrol. You must give reasonable assistance (for example, calling paramedics in the case of potentially serious injuries) to anyone who is injured in an accident. Arizona law also requires you to move your car so that traffic is not impeded, if possible. You may want to take pictures of the position of your car before you move it to assist in any investigation as to the cause of the accident.
Knowing what not to say at the scene of an accident is just as important. Arizona is a “comparative negligence” state, which means that determining who is responsible for an accident can be a complicated issue. It could be that one driver is determined to be 100 percent at fault, while the other bears no responsibility, in which case the at-fault driver (or the driver’s insurance company) would be responsible for paying 100 percent of the damages. In more complicated cases, each driver may be responsible for a varying degree of fault. Insurance companies will attempt to negotiate the percentage of responsibility to avoid paying out any more than necessary.
Given the potential pitfalls, you should not admit fault at the scene of an accident or make any statements that could be construed as accepting blame. Keep your statements to the police factual and honest, but avoid speculating about causation. Consulting a Phoenix car accident attorney prior to negotiating with the other party’s insurance company can help ensure you obtain the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.
An auto accident can be both physically and mentally traumatic, so you should seek medical attention as soon as possible after your accident, even if you don’t think you feel that bad. Some types of injuries may not manifest until days after the accident, if not longer, and the stress reaction immediately after an accident can mask the symptoms of even relatively serious injuries. Getting checked out immediately after an accident can help ensure that an injury isn’t overlooked. Make sure you keep a record of any medical expenses associated with your accident.
In the case of a serious injury, or an injury that becomes apparent some time after the accident, consulting an attorney can be critical for protecting your rights. In addition to medical bills, you may face the expense of lost work time, as well as being entitled to damages for pain and suffering. Experienced personal injury attorneys can help determine your best course of action to get the compensation you deserve so you can focus on recovery, whether that means negotiating with insurance companies or filing a lawsuit. The aggressive personal injury lawyers of Hodes, Milman & Liebeck in Phoenix, AZ, will fight for your rights to help you obtain the best possible outcome.