What Should You Do After a Phoenix Car Accident?

phoenix car accident

Car accidents can be incredibly traumatic experiences, and 25-33% of drivers display PTSD symptoms more than 30 days after a bad crash. 

If you’re involved in a Phoenix car accident, you might be in a state of severe shock. It’s also not something that many of us are prepared for.

However, you must keep your wits about you and follow the correct steps. 

If you’re not sure what to do after an accident, keep reading. 

Safety First

The priority following a crash is to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you. Check yourself and others for injuries. If someone is injured, call for emergency services immediately. 

Be very cautious about moving anyone who’s injured, unless they’re in immediate danger of fire or further injury from other vehicles. Moving an injured person can potentially make their condition worse, and shouldn’t be attempted without training unless necessary. 

If an injured person has to be moved, try to get them into a stable condition first. 

Moving Your Vehicle

If your vehicle is on the road and can still be driven, you might be tempted to move it out of harm’s way. Moving a vehicle after an accident should be avoided if possible. 

If you or the other driver move your vehicles before the Phoenix Police Department arrives, this can interfere with the investigation process. They must assess the situation, document the accident, and create an official police report. The police report is a key piece of evidence in determining accident fault. 

If either or both vehicles aren’t in their original positions, this might make it harder for the police to reconstruct the accident. 

However, there are times when it may be necessary to reposition your vehicle. For instance, if the accident happened on a busy highway, your car might pose a significant hazard to other vehicles. If it’s blocking the road, this could trigger another crash, or cause serious congestion. 

If your car is in a hazardous location, this is another instance where you might need to move it. For instance, if it’s on a blind curve or on a narrow road, leaving your car in place might cause another accident. 

Finally, if emergency vehicles can’t access the scene of the accident, you might be required to move your vehicle. 

Notify the Authorities 

You aren’t required to report a Phoenix car accident if the damages are less than $1,000 and nobody is injured. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t notify the authorities. 

Even if the accident was relatively minor, you should still report it. As we said above, the police report is a key piece of evidence for establishing accident liability and making an insurance claim. 

If you call 911, they will dispatch the Phoenix Police Department and any rescue or medical personnel needed. 

Once the police arrive on the scene of the accident, they will take down the particulars of all parties, including names and contact information of drivers and victims. They’ll also record the license plate numbers and insurance information, and ask each party for their recollection of the accident. 

This information will go into the police report, along with a diagram of the accident scene. 

If at any point you need to access the police report, you can do so at a local precinct. You can also request a copy online by filling out a police department records report request. 

Exchange Details With the Other Parties

Besides alerting the authorities, you should also exchange details with the other driver. Try to get there:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Contact information (including email addresses)
  • License plate number and make and model of the vehicle

You also want to make sure you get the contact details of any eyewitnesses and bystanders. This can be invaluable if you need to draw on their testimony when proving accident liability. 

Stay at the Scene of the Accident

Leaving the scene of an accident can be a serious offense, especially if there are injuries or significant damage involved. In some instances, it can even result in criminal charges. 

Make sure you remain at the scene of the crash until the police have arrived and completed their report. If you are unsure of when you can leave, consult with the dispatched officers. 

If you have been injured, emergency services might remove you from the accident scene for further medical attention. If this happens, you will not be liable for “deserting” the scene. 

Document the Details of the Accident

If you are physically able to, write down all details surrounding the accident as soon as possible. Include everything you can recall, including:

  • The time of day
  • The weather conditions
  • The traffic flow
  • Your speed
  • A description of what happened

You should also document the accident scene by taking photos and videos. Photograph the location of the vehicles, the damage to your car, and any injuries. 

Get Comprehensive Medical Evaluation and Treatment

It’s also critical that you receive a comprehensive full-body assessment after an auto crash. 

If you suffered obvious injuries during the accident, and an emergency team was summoned, they will stabilize you and perhaps render treatment on the spot. 

You might be transferred to a hospital or doctor for further treatment. After your initial treatment, it’s very important to seek follow-up care. 

But what if your injuries aren’t serious enough to warrant emergency treatment? You should still get a medical examination done. 

Some car accident injuries won’t be immediately apparent. For instance, head injury symptoms can show up days after an accident. If left untreated, TBIs and concussions can have long-term consequences. 

Symptoms can be prolonged, and you could experience post-concussion syndrome and cognitive and emotional impairment. Untreated concussions can also make you more susceptible to experiencing future concussions. 

The Role of Medical Evidence in an Auto Accident Case

Seeking an initial assessment and any required follow-up treatment for injuries isn’t just imperative for your recovery. It can also be a critical part of your accident case. 

If you’ve suffered severe injuries with potentially lasting impacts, follow-up assessments, and treatments will provide a comprehensive medical record to substantiate your injury claims. 

If you’ve suffered less “visible” injuries, such as a spinal injury or TBI that’s slow to manifest symptoms, early diagnosis can be key for your claim. 

If you delay medical assessment and treatment, the insurance carrier might use this as “proof” that your injuries aren’t as serious as you say they are. 

Not seeking prompt treatment and follow-up care is one of the most common mistakes people make following a car accident. 

Notify Your Insurance Provider

If you’ve been in an auto accident, you will need to notify your insurance provider as soon as possible. Ideally, you should report the accident within 24-48 hours. 

If you delay reporting the accident, this can create complications in the claims process. It could even result in a claim denial in some cases. 

Most carriers have a cut-off period during which you can report an accident or file a claim. Additionally, the longer you wait to report the accident, the more chance you might have of receiving a low claim offer. 

The insurance carrier might argue that if it was as bad as you’re making out, you would have filed the claim immediately. 

Get Legal Help

Another step you might want to take following an auto accident is to consult with an accident lawyer. 

If the accident was minor, and your claim is very small, it might not be necessary. But for moderate to large claims, it’s often best to have legal help on your side. 

Unfortunately, even minor accidents can result in costly damage. For example, a cracked window screen alone can cost up to $325 to repair. 

The higher your claim amount is, the more reason there is to use an accident lawyer. Insurance carriers exist to make a profit, and they don’t achieve this by being generous with claim payouts. 

Insurance companies need to protect their bottom line, and one way they do this is by offering low-ball settlement amounts. This is especially true for high-stakes claims. 

If their initial settlement offer doesn’t seem fair, the best thing to do is engage an attorney. An accident lawyer will know how to negotiate with the carrier. They also know how to build a solid body of evidence for your claim.

A lot of people only look for a lawyer after their insurance provider seems unwilling to pay out a fair claim. If you want to give your claim the ultimate chance of success, we’d recommend getting legal help even sooner, especially if you were involved in a serious accident. 

Why? If you handle the initial dealings with the insurance carrier on your own, they might trick you into giving them “evidence” that they can use against you. This can happen through things like leading questions and recorded statements that occur over the phone without your knowledge. 

Another reason to hire an attorney from the get-go is that Arizona follows a comparative negligence system. Under this system, the damages are divided among the drivers according to their percentage of accident fault. 

In other words, if you’re 20% at fault for the accident, your claim amount will be reduced by 20%. A good accident lawyer will ensure that you don’t assume more accident liability than necessary. 

Do You Need a Phoenix Car Accident Attorney?

Have you been in a Phoenix car accident? The first order of business is to deal with the accident scene and your medical needs. Make sure you get a medical examination, even if your injuries appear minor. 

After that, you will need to report the accident to your insurance. Unless the damages are minor, it might also be worth your while to hire a car accident attorney to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. 

If you’re looking for a Phoenix car accident attorney, we are the people to speak to. 

Here at Sweet Lawyers, we specialize in auto accident cases. We also operate on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay a dime unless we settle. 

Contact us today to arrange a consultation. 

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