According to a June 2009 report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the projected number of automobile accidents that resulted in fatalities declined in the first quarter 2009 as compared to the same period last year. Between January and March of this year, “an estimated 7,689 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes.”
Despite the decline, auto accidents continue to take lives. “Though it can be hard to think clearly if you’ve just been in an auto accident, the following are steps to take if you are ever involved in one”.
Step 1 – Ensure your own safety and that of your passengers. Many fatal accidents occur after a relatively minor fender bender while people are standing in the roadway or near their vehicle. If possible, move the car off the road and out of the flow of traffic. In the event that the car is disabled and cannot be moved, all passengers should get out of the car and immediately get to a place of safety. Place lit flares or a warning sign in the roadway to alert oncoming drivers. Injured passengers should be kept calm and comfortable until help arrives.
Step 2 – Call 911. Call 911 to notify the police, ambulance service, and, if necessary, the fire department. If you don’t know your exact location, look for landmarks that responders can use to find you. It always is advisable to call 911, even if no one appears to be injured, to notify the local police department about the accident. Injuries often become apparent at some point after the accident once the shock and adrenaline subside.
Step 3 – File a police report. If police do not come to the scene of the accident and take a report, go to the precinct where the accident occurred and file one yourself. Accident victims who cannot go to the precinct because of injury and who do not have someone to go on their behalf must call the precinct where the accident occurred and request that a police officer visit to their home or hospital bed to make a report.
Step 4 – Seek necessary medical help. Let the police know of any injuries or suspected injuries. If there is no need for an ambulance, go to the nearest hospital to be examined. Accident victims frequently go into shock or are dazed after an accident. A hospital visit will ensure an examination to identify serious injuries even if they are not immediately apparent. Passengers may feel that what they were experiencing was minor and just got a little ‘banged up.’
Step 5 – Consult with a personal injury attorney.A personal injury lawyer will know all of the necessary steps to take to protect an injured person’s legal rights, including a course of action if the other driver is uninsured. Depending on the insurance status of the other driver, there may be only a short time to file a Notice of Claim with your own insurance company or the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation in New York, before your chance to bring a lawsuit is lost. In New York State, for example, the accident must be reported to the police department within 24 hours, and the claim itself must be made within 180 days after the accident.