If you’ve just been in a crash, you probably have a lot of questions about what to do, how to protect yourself, and who to talk to. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed immediately after a crash, but you need to keep a level head and take a rational approach, especially in a comparative negligence state, like Nevada.
So, what are the most important things you should do after a Nevada car crash? Let’s find out.
Check for Injuries
Once the car comes to a complete stop, take a moment to breathe and refocus yourself. The most important thing you need to do is determine whether you or your passengers suffered severe injuries.
Adrenaline released from your brain during the crash often masks the injuries you have suffered. Sometimes you don’t feel the true impact until days after the accident. Consequently, an initial assessment of your injuries should be done at the scene of the crash.
Start by slowly rotating your joints (wrists, ankles, shoulders, etc.); if you feel the sharp sting of a broken bone, stop and call for an ambulance. Likewise, if you see blood, even if you have a bloody nose from the airbag striking your head, you should call for an ambulance.
Call for Help
If someone is seriously injured or you see significant property damage, you should call 911 and request an ambulance and a police officer at the scene. Paramedics have the equipment and training to treat minor injuries and stabilize those who are seriously hurt. When it comes to a severe car crash, having an ambulance at the scene can mean the difference between a smooth recovery and lasting complications down the road.
A police officer is equally important, and their presence is required at crashes where someone is seriously injured or killed. Even in a less severe crash, an officer can provide one of the most important pieces of evidence you can have, a police report.
The police report is an unbiased and publically available third-party statement that documents the crash, where it occurred, and includes information of everyone involved. Not only does this verify the other driver’s information, but it proves that a crash occurred. More importantly, it establishes who is at fault for the crash.
Many people don’t know this, but if a person pleads guilty to a traffic offense, it establishes liability for a subsequent personal injury suit. For that reason, if you’re in an accident where you were injured and not at fault, you should always call the police to the scene of the crash.
If the police are not at the scene, liability can be contested. Often, the opposing party’s insurance company’s attorneys will argue the accident was not severe enough to call the police.
If you are severely injured and an ambulance has been called, it is best to stay in your car (if it is safe to do so) and restrict your movement. If you were not severely injured, and you are able, try to gather information from all witnesses of the accident. You should get their name, phone number, and email address. This is especially important if the police have not been called to the scene.
Even if police are at the scene, don’t assume they will interview all witnesses. If there are any witnesses nearby, such as pedestrians or drivers who pulled over, ask if they’d be willing to stay and provide a statement for the police report. Additionally, you should avoid any statements about what caused the crash, even if you think you were at fault.
Nevada is a comparative negligence state, meaning that everyone involved in a car crash is assigned a percentage amount of the fault, adding up to a total of 100%. Your percentage of fault will reduce your recovery, and if you are more than 51% at fault, you will be prohibited from recovery. As a result, you should be very cautious about making any statements to the other driver. Your police statement should be simple and to the point without referencing your actions.
Suppose you’re not careful about what you say immediately after a crash. The other driver may relay what you said to their insurance company, which can cause your fault to shift and make it more difficult to obtain a fair settlement.
When meeting the other drivers involved in the accident, introduce yourself and get the following information.
Driver’s license number
License plate number
Insurance policy number
Also, make sure you get pictures of the damage, all four sides of both vehicles, and a few pictures of the surrounding area.
If you’re concerned about verifying the information or copying it incorrectly, you may ask the other driver to text their information to you. Once you receive their text, you’ll have a way to contact them if something goes wrong.
Go to the Doctor
When you leave the scene of the crash, it’s time to see a doctor. It doesn’t matter if you got to the hospital, your preferred family provider, or the nearest urgent care office; you should get checked out by a medical professional immediately.
Going to the doctor immediately after a crash is important because the pain from your injuries is likely being masked by the adrenaline from the accident. Your pain two days after the accident will likely be greater than the pain you feel immediately after the accident. Therefore, it is important to go to the doctor immediately to verify your injuries, but also to get ahead of the oncoming pain.
Even if you’re not in immediate pain, a physical examination can identify early warning signs of a concussion, traumatic brain injury, or other “latent injuries,” which would otherwise not show symptoms for several days. This can help you establish an early treatment plan so you can monitor risks and prevent your injuries from worsening.
At the same time, having a doctor document your injuries immediately after a crash verifies that your injuries were a direct result of the crash and that they were severe enough that you sought medical attention as soon as possible.
Report the Crash
Once you leave the doctor’s office, it’s time to report the crash to your insurance company. This is as simple as calling the number on your card and saying, “I was in a car crash today. Here is the other driver’s insurance information.” Your own insurance company will deal with your property damage claim.
There is no need to talk with the other driver’s insurance company. If the other driver’s insurance company asks for information about the accident, politely decline. Be especially careful if they want a statement “for the record” or if you learn the call is being recorded. They are simply trying to gather information to use against you in the future.
Contact Your Attorney
Once you have sought medical help, you should consult an auto injury attorney. When you hire an experienced attorney to handle your case, you can rest easy and focus on feeling better while they handle the rest.
Your attorney will speak to the insurance companies, fill out all the paperwork, and negotiate on your behalf. While a car crash is undoubtedly a stressful experience, having an attorney on your side can make all the difference.
Personal Injury Lawyers at Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. Help
If you have been injured in a car or truck accident, you need a personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. can help you understand your legal rights and the steps you may take to pursue maximum compensation. We have successfully recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients. Talk to us, and we can help you explore your options. Call us today at (775) 227-2280 to schedule a free case consultation or contact our office through our website.