Car Crash Checklist: What to Do, What to Avoid
Car accidents are a serious problem in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois. As the Illinois Department of Transportation reports, every day in our state, there are:
- 811 traffic crashes
- 232 crash-related injuries
- 2 crash-related deaths.
If you find yourself involved in one of these car accidents in Illinois, will you know what to do? It is imperative that you have a plan in place.
The following is a brief guide on what steps you should take after an accident, what mistakes you should avoid and how you can prepare yourself and your family for long road trips.
By following this guide, you can enhance your safety and protect your rights:
Four Steps to Take After a Car Accident
- Stop your vehicle: Under Illinois law, drivers must bring their vehicle to an immediate stop after an accident. Additionally, drivers may not leave the scene of the accident until police arrive. Of course, there is an exception for circumstances in which emergency medical attention is necessary.
- Render aid: If another person does need emergency medical help, anyone involved in the crash should render aid to the best of their ability. People are far more important than property. Please do whatever you can to get any injured parties, including yourself, the medical assistance that is required.
- Contact the police: Accidents should always be reported to law enforcement. If you were involved in a major accident, be sure that an officer comes to the scene to prepare a police report. You should also provide your input so that the police report is accurate.
- Secure accident evidence and other relevant information: After an accident, you may need to file a personal injury claim or property damage claim. If you are doing so, you will generally need supporting evidence. Many important forms of evidence begin to deteriorate soon after a crash. Take proactive steps to secure all relevant evidence and information, including:
1. Contact, vehicle and insurance information of all other drivers involved
2. Photographs of the accident scene and the vehicle damage
3. Photographs of your injuries
4. Contact information of all witnesses.
Three Major Mistakes to Avoid After a Crash
1. Failing to seek medical attention.
You should always seek professional medical attention soon after a car accident. Certainly, if you are seriously injured, immediate emergency assistance is necessary.
However, even if your injuries are only moderate, you still need to get yourself to a doctor as soon as possible. While it is common to have aches and pains after a car accident, it does mean that something is wrong. Drivers and passengers should know what to expect physically after a car accident.
Often, many serious injury symptoms come with a delayed onset. You may be far more injured than you initially realize.
Some common car accident injuries that take several hours or days to appear include:
- Back pain
- Soft tissue damage.
Beyond protecting your health, you also need to see a doctor to protect your legal rights. In the event that you take legal action, you will need official medical records that support the existence and extent of your injuries.
2. Carelessly dealing with the insurance company.
The insurance company is not on your side. Unfortunately, this is true even in regards to your own insurer. The big insurance companies are always looking out for their own bottom line over your best interests. If an insurer can push you into taking a low settlement offer, it will try to do so.
Many car accident victims unknowingly hurt their own personal injury claim simply by being careless when dealing with the insurance company. If you are dealing with an insurance company, make sure to:
- Keep all conversations formal and refrain from speaking casually about your accident.
- Get everything you are told by the insurance company in writing.
- Do not sign anything without approval from your personal injury attorney.
- Be skeptical of quick settlement offers as they are often too low.
3. Failing to speak to an attorney.
Ultimately, the single biggest mistake car accident victims make is that they fail to consult with an attorney. Many victims do not get the full and fair compensation that they rightfully deserve because they make avoidable mistakes in the claims process or because they are mistreated by the insurance company.
An experienced Chicago car accident attorney can keep this from happening. Your attorney will be able to assess your case and determine exactly what needs to be done to help you pursue a full settlement offer.
Five Tips on How to Survive the Holiday Drive
Finally, taking proper precautions before getting in the car is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family while on the road. This is especially important during the holiday season as many families in our area take lengthy road trips through the Midwest winter weather.
Before you and your family leave on a holiday road trip, please consider the following five safety tips:
- Know where you are going: You never want to be messing around with a map or your GPS device while you are behind the wheel. Please know where you are going ahead of time. Further, make sure that you leave plenty of time to get there. Speeding is not only unlawful, but it dramatically increases the risks of an accident.
- Rest up: If you are going on a long trip, plan some breaks. Do not overexert yourself. Comprehensive research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation has found that drowsy driving is a major safety hazard.
- Get your vehicle ready: Your car should always be checked out before a long road trip. Things that should be inspected include the battery, drive belt, tires, all fluids and your headlights.
- Buckle up the kids: Young children need to be secured in the appropriate booster seat. If you have any questions about child safety seats, please refer to the expert guidance provided by SaferCar.gov.
- Bring an emergency roadside kit: Never leave on a long trip without a well-stocked emergency roadside preparedness kit. Your kit should include first aid supplies, batteries, bottled water, gloves, boots, blankets, jumper cables, chargers and a flashlight.
Involved in an Illinois Auto Accident? Contact Our Office Today
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our car accident attorneys have the skill and experience to help you to seek full and fair compensation. To learn about what our team can do for you, please contact our office today to set up a free review of your accident claim. Our firm serves Chicago and communities throughout Illinois.
Patrick A. Salvi concentrates his legal practice in several limited areas primarily involving a trial practice in cases concerning serious personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and mass torts. Mr. Salvi has achieved record-breaking jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients, including serving as lead counsel in obtaining an Illinois record-high $148 million jury verdict and a Lake County record $33 million jury verdict.