More than six million car accidents occur each year in India. Fortunately, most of them only involve property damage - damage to the vehicle rather than the occupants. But one in three accidents involves personal injury to the driver or passengers and of that number, two in ten result in fatal injuries.
If you are in a car accident, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself and your interests. Here is a list of the top ten things to do if you are in a car accident:
- Stop - Never leave the scene of an accident, even if it is a minor one.
- Protection of the scene - You can prevent further accidents by placing flashlights or keeping the flashes on. If it's dark and the lights aren't working, you should have a flashlight to stay safe while you wait in your broken-down car or on the side of the road.
- Call the police - Even if there are no serious injuries, it is a good idea to contact the police. You may need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company, even if it is just to file a claim for damage to your car. Vehicles involved in the accident must remain in place, unless they interfere with traffic.
- Make an accurate record - When the police arrive, be sure to tell the investigating officers exactly what happened, as often as possible. If you don't know certain facts, tell the officer. Don't speculate, guess, or misrepresent any of the facts. If they ask if you are infected and you are not sure, say you are not sure, no. Car accident pain and injuries usually appear hours after the actual collision. You must also ensure that the statements made by other people involved in the accident are accurate.
- Take Pictures - If you have a camera in your car or a cell phone with a camera, you should take pictures of the vehicles if there is visible damage. If you have obvious injuries, you should also photograph them. However, you must not interfere in any way with an ongoing police investigation. If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the accident, please do so as soon as possible after the accident.
- Exchange of information - Usually the investigating police officer obtains this information. However, if the police do not respond to the accident, they should obtain the name, address, and telephone number of everyone involved in the accident, drivers and passengers alike. You should also obtain insurance information by requesting to see the insurance card for all vehicles involved in the accident. If there are witnesses, you should also get information from them so that you or your attorney can contact them in the future. If the police respond to the accident, the investigating officer will generally provide all drivers with a police report number. You can use this number later to get a police report. If the accident occurred on a state highway, you should request the report from the state police.
- Report the accident - Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Many policies require quick reports and full cooperation. Find out if you have medical benefits as part of your insurance coverage. You pay more for this type of coverage, known as "medpay," so you must use it. In fact, if you have medpay coverage, you should submit accident-related medical bills to your insurance company. Medpay coverage is essential for accident-related medical bills. Once you have exhausted your medpay benefits, private health insurance becomes your primary insurer. Medpay benefits are available to all vehicle occupants. Your insurance rates should not increase as a result of making claims for medpay coverage.
- Seek medical attention - Oftentimes, car accident injuries don't show up right away. Most of our clients report severe pain a day or two after a car accident. Unless you are absolutely sure that you are not infected, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or see your GP. Even in accidents involving a minor impact, you can sustain a serious and permanent spinal cord injury. If you lose consciousness or become dizzy, even for a short time after impact, you may have experienced a concussion or closed head injury. This can cause cognitive and behavioral changes if left untreated.
- Keep a file - Keep all accident-related documents and information together. This information should include the claim number, the claims resolution officer handling the claim, the names and phone numbers of all contacts, car rental receipts, and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
- Protect your rights - Perhaps the most important thing to do after the accident is to consult your attorney. Your attorney can protect your rights and ensure that valuable evidence is not destroyed. Oftentimes, insurance companies want to take data immediately after an accident. It is important that you have received legal advice before making such a statement. Your attorney can advise you on issues ranging from how to ensure you obtain full compensation for your car to how to ensure that you receive the best medical treatment available. Personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no legal fees unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.