A car accident can be a terrible and stressful experience. If a person’s vehicle is damaged or if someone is injured, thinking about regular day-to-day concerns can be next to impossible. However, being informed up-front about the practical and legal steps a victim can take following a car accident can be a good first step towards regaining one’s footing and moving on in the event of an accident. The following car accident overview can help prepare drivers for the practical and legal concerns that may arise.
After the Accident
The first thing you should do after any accident is to help anyone who is injured. Once this is done, drivers need to exchange information with the other driver. This includes name, address and vehicle registration. If the other vehicle is unoccupied, a driver must either find the owner or leave a note with the same information.
Other information that a driver should get is the name of the other driver’s insurance company and the make and model and license plate number of the other car. They will then need to call their insurance company and report the accident to them. A more detailed discussion of required actions as an accident scene can be found at the Chicago Police Department website.
If Someone is Injured or if a Vehicle is Damaged
If there are injuries or damage to a vehicle, there will have to be a determination made of which driver was at fault or negligent. Every licensed driver in Illinois owes a duty to other individuals sharing the road to drive their car using reasonable care. When a driver or drivers fail to meet this duty of reasonable care, they can be held liable for injuries that are a direct result of their negligent driving.
Some examples of behaviors that could be considered negligent are speeding, driving a vehicle with defective parts, or driving while distracted or impaired. However, road design or conditions can also contribute to an accident. Some examples include pot holes, poor visibility, or surface conditions. However, drivers also have a responsibility to reasonably adjust their driving behavior to account for the variable conditions often encountered in Chicago and across Illinois.
As a practical matter, it is a good idea to make a checklist from this car accident overview or related resources, and keep it in a vehicle. It can be hard to remember all the details in the event of a future car crash. Drivers in accidents should write down the other driver’s information, any notable aspects of his or her driving, and road conditions. You could even carry a disposable camera to take pictures of the road, the vehicle damage and the scene. Furthermore, in any but the most minor of fender-benders drivers are well-advised to have police come by and memorialize the incident in a police report.
All of this information and documentation may be needed later when dealing with insurance companies for payment of damages. It should be noted that many accidents that seem minor at the time may be worse than originally thought. Medical symptoms might not appear right away. Cars these days can require thousands of dollars in repair costs for what looks like minimal damage. The more information drivers gather and record at the time of an accident, the better.
Accidents and the Law
Often, car accidents and damages are something that do not lead anywhere near a courtroom, with insurers making payouts and getting victims back on their feet and covering necessary repairs. However, there are often cases, particularly where the causes and circumstances of an accident are in dispute, or where an insurance company or companies fail to adequately compensate a victim, when individuals may want to seek legal advice from a personal injury or car accident attorney.
Having a written record of the circumstances may help establish a case should there ever be such a need to take legal action to get compensation for medical bills or car damage.
A car accident can be a traumatic experience. Planning ahead can help individuals prepare for the accidents and the potential legal fallout.