Nebraska Auto Accident Triage (Time Zero to 7 Days After the Crash)
Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is cash – spend it wisely. – Author Unknown
When a crash occurs, a great many problems come with it. While the steps you’ll take to address each problem vary, one thing stays the same: it pays to address each of them promptly and thoughtfully.
Post-Zero: in the moments after the crash
In the minutes after the accident occurs, your top priority is your health.
If anyone involved in the crash has been injured, even slightly, call 911 or your local emergency number. A “slight” pain at the scene, when the injured person is still in shock, can signal a much more serious injury, especially if that pain is in the head, neck, or back. Avoid moving anyone with head, neck, or back pain of any kind. Wait for medical professionals to treat the person instead.
Move off the road
In a minor accident where the vehicle can still travel, move the vehicle as far off the road as you can. This will help prevent oncoming traffic from accidentally hitting you or the car, making the accident worse. Put the vehicle in park, and turn on your hazard lights.
If the vehicle won’t move, or if you can’t move it without endangering yourself or someone else, leave the vehicle where it is. Turn on the hazard lights, use road flares, or set up reflective warning panels if you have them. Move yourself and others a safe distance from the scene if you can do so without risking further injury. Don’t stay around a vehicle that has been hit – it may have a gas leak or other dangerous condition you can’t see.
Collect, or ask someone else to collect, as much information as you can while you are at the scene. Start by exchanging contact information with the other people involved in the crash. This information should include:
- First and last names
- Home and mobile or cell phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Drivers’ license numbers
- License plate numbers
- Insurance contact information (you can find this on your insurance cards)
Gathering full names, phone numbers, and email addresses from any witnesses can also help you with your claim at a later date. Don’t worry if witnesses don’t seem to know or remember anything useful; just get their information. Your attorney can help you figure out later who is genuinely helpful to your case and who is not.
As you gather information, do not admit that you were at fault for the accident – even if you think you were partially responsible. Admitting blame can potentially hurt your claim. In the moments immediately following a crash, it’s impossible to tell who or what was actually at fault, especially if you are in pain or beginning to suffer the effects of shock. Your job in these moments is to collect information, not to assess root causes or speculate.
Make note of unusual evidence
Naturally, you’ll want to document the visible damage to your car, your own injuries, and the “layout” of the scene as much as you can. But what else should you collect?
Pay attention to any unusual details about the accident. For instance, do you see any open beer cans or drug-related items in the other vehicle? Does the other vehicle have a license plate, or is it missing? Is a stoplight on the fritz or road signage blocked or defaced? Write down anything that stands out as unusual or problematic.
Document your injuries
If you have a camera or cell phone, take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to your vehicle. Likewise, take photos of your injuries, even if there is little “external” evidence of harm. Some injuries, like bruises, may hurt immediately after the crash but take a few days to fully appear.
Photograph these injuries as they develop. A passenger or witnesses may be willing to gather information and take photographs for you if you are in too much pain or too “out of it” to do so yourself.
If you can, write down everything you remember about the moments leading up to the crash. This statement can help you reconstruct what happened. Insurance companies and courts value “fresh” testimony and evidence more than they value memories that are weeks or months old.
For immediate insight into your Nebraska car accident, call Inkelaar Law to get the justice you deserve at (877) 537-4665, or visit www.JusticeYouDeserve.com.