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Protecting Yourself After a Car Accident

Imagine you’re driving down the road when you see a blur of motion out of the corner of your eye. Before you can even turn your head to look, you feel a shuddering impact and hear the sickening sound of screeching tires and rending metal. You’ve just been in a car accident. Though it was the last thing you expected to happen when you left the house that day, you’re one of a large statistic. On average, approximately 6.5 million car crashes occur in the United States a year – that’s over 17,000 a day. Unfortunately, the odds are high that at some point in your life you will be involved in a vehicular collision. It is therefore important to know what to do when a crash occurs.

The most important thing you can do after a car crash is to get help for anyone who is injured. Sometimes it can be hard to assess the extent of your and others injuries immediately after a crash. But never hesitate to call 911 immediately if there is a question of any injury having occurred. The police or paramedics will provide any assistance injured parties require, from being removed from the vehicle to medical treatment.

If it is safe to do so, and the vehicle is drivable, remove your car from the roadway so it does not present a hazard to other traffic. If the car cannot be moved, turn on your hazard lights. It helps to keep flares or signals in your car which can be placed near your car to alert on-coming traffic to its presence. Once allowable, call a tow truck to remove the vehicle.

If possible, all drivers involved should exchange contact and insurance information before leaving the scene. Be certain to write down the other vehicles make, model and license plate number. However, avoid discussion of the accident, including making any declarations of fault. It can also help to use your phone to take photos of the accident. You may be compelled by law to involve the police at this point. While events involving major crashes, hit-and-run or impaired drivers clearly require the involvement of the police, for seemingly minor accidents it can be hard to judge. State law varies on requirements -- for instance, Illinois requires the police to be called to a crash if injury or death has occurred, and/or if at least $1500 in damages has occurred ($500 in damages involving an uninsured vehicle). If in doubt, contact the police.

After an accident, consider seeing a physician even if you believe you are completely or mostly uninjured. After an accident, injuries can manifest or worsen days or weeks after an accident. As soon as possible, notify your insurance carrier to inform them of the accident. You may receive a call from the other party’s insurance company. Never speak with them directly as they represent themselves and their client, not your best interest. Remember, however, that even your insurance company will be looking to minimize their financial loss. Some people erroneously believe they must accept the first offer an insurance company gives them, but this is far from the case. Before accepting any settlement, contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer who can represent you in seeking compensation for your losses after an accident.

About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.

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