When we conjure up images of car accidents, we imagine immediate pain and trauma, followed by the wailing of ambulance sirens. A catastrophe, in other words. The truth is most of us will not have an accident, but if you see reports of the recent car accidents in Orlando, you might think it could happen to you.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety there were 34,439 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2016 in which 37,461 deaths occurred. This resulted in 11.6 deaths per 100,000 people and 1.16 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. The fatality rate per 100,000 people ranged from 4.0 in the District of Columbia to 23.1 in Mississippi. The death rate per 100 million miles traveled ranged from 0.66 in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island to 1.88 in South Carolina; in Florida the death rate per 100 million miles traveled was 1.29.
Although the U.S. population has been growing steadily since 1975, the rate of crash deaths per 100,000 population in 2016 is about half of what it was 40 years ago. However, the overall per capita death rate in 2016 increased 5 percent from the rate in 2015.
According to the National Safety Council your lifetime odds for dying in a car accident are 1 in 102 over your lifetime.
While those facts may seem scary the reality of most car accidents is far more routine: a car hits you (or the other way around), you assess the damage, you contact the insurance company. And then–a few days or a week later–you notice the pain. Maybe it comes in waves; maybe it feels more laser-like and intense. Regardless, you can feel it. If you been involved in a car accident in Orlando, or elsewhere in Central Florida you need to know what to do.
If your car accident is a minor one, here are a few simple steps you need to take, courtesy of Money Crashers.
Silence is sometimes golden. Watch what you say when you face the other driver(s) for the first time. Never admit fault, or even apologize. If you do either, the other driver(s) might use your words against you. There have been instances when another driver will try and get another driver to admit fault, even if they weren’t. Sure, ask If everyone is okay, after you call local law enforcement, but beyond that say as little as possible. Remain calm, keep your emotions in check.
Law enforcement is your friend. Law enforcement officers are trained to be an unbiased neutral party; they are also trained to piece together what happened. When speaking with a police officer at the scene of an accident, remember these points about making your statement:
- Tell the officer the direction in which you were headed.
Note any signaling you saw or used before acting (e.g., a turn signal).
- Mention any injuries that you or those in your car experienced due to the collision (including soreness or whip lash).
- Share details about what you did leading up to and following the accident, without making assumptions about the actions of the other driver. For instance, you shouldn’t say, “I guess he forgot to signal and wanted to turn left.” This type of statement could be completely incorrect, and it makes you look like you’re placing blame.
Be honest, calm and to the point.
Take pictures, memorize details. All of us have smartphones with cameras. Use it to take as many pictures as you can, not only of the damage to your car but of the others as well. Also get a pic of the other driver’s insurance card. If you can at the scene, or as soon as you can when you get home, pull up Google Maps, get a shot of the accident scene from above and map out exactly what you think happened.
Stay calm. This has already been mentioned but can’t be stressed enough. From the immediate aftermath through the insurance process, law enforcement, other drivers involved, and insurance claim agents respond better to a calm person.
Once the adrenaline wears off you may start to notice some aches and pains that you may not have noticed just after the accident. If you think something is seriously wrong, go to the emergency room.
If you are injured, even if you think it’s minor, there are still some steps you need to take.
At Badgley Law Group, we’ve helped hundreds of clients navigate the days after a wreck, and we have some best practices for dealing with your injury and the subsequent doctors’ visits that can result. Here’s how to deal with your doctor after a car accident:
Understand that the onset of pain can be delayed. With many injuries that are caused by the impact of motor vehicles pain can often take 2-3 days to materialize, so be prepared when the soreness sets in. Based on this, plan on visiting your doctor 4-7 days after your accident.
Visit your doctor within 14 days of a car accident in order to activate your personal injury protection. Florida law requires all drivers to carry at least $10,000 of coverage to help cover medical expenses and lost wages resulting from an auto accident. Florida law also requires that you receive treatment within 2 weeks of an accident for this coverage to kick in. Don’t miss this window.
Tell your story, but don’t go into too much detail, because all your records are discoverable in a lawsuit. Stick to the facts, and don’t speculate. Your doctor isn’t your lawyer.
Ask your doctor to refer you to physical therapy, or for an MRI or X-ray as needed. Sometimes chiropractic therapy just isn’t enough. If you’re still in pain after a few visits with a chiropractor, get specific with your doctor about stepping up your treatment plan to the next level of rehabilitation and diagnosis.
Follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter so that you don’t open yourself up to the possibility of reinjury–or of tanking your case. If you’re serious about your health, you won’t miss visits to your physician or rehab. And if you’re serious about your case, you’ll obey doctor’s orders in order to demonstrate your injury is legitimate, and should be considered as such by the courts.
Call Orlando personal injury attorney Jeff Badgley today at 866-977-1544 for more good advice on how to deal with the aftermath of your car accident.