Protect Yourself in the Case of a Car Accident or Injury
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 10.8 million motor vehicle accidents in 2009. Of those accidents, 2.2 million involved injuries. These statistics show us that injuries from auto accidents are fairly common - which is why drivers should educate themselves on what to do when they're injured in an accident. The laws for traffic collisions in North Carolina are very specific, and often drivers neglect to follow the law's requirements, resulting in insurance claim and legal problems later on. You can help protect yourself in the case of a car accident by following these steps:
- Call Police or 9-1-1 for an Emergency
If you've been involved in a motor vehicle accident and suffered an injury, the first thing you should do is notify the proper authorities. If the injury is serious, dial 9-1-1. If the injuries are minor, call the police department first. (You may still need to be seen by emergency medical responders later).
According to the NC DMV Driver's Handbook, North Carolina law requires drivers of motor vehicles involved in a collision involving personal injury, property damage or death to do the following:
- Stop the vehicle immediately.
- Take precautions to prevent further crashes at the scene. If there are no injuries or fatalities, move out of the travel lane onto the shoulder of the road if possible
- Do whatever you can to help those who have been injured.
- Try to ensure that someone informs a law enforcement officer immediately.
- Remain at the scene of the collision until law enforcement completes an investigation of the scene and authorizes you to leave. (You are allowed to temporarily leave the scene to get medical help or call the police, as long as you return to the scene as soon as possible).
The law also requires drivers involved to exchange information such as names, contact info, insurance company info, drivers license numbers, and so forth. This will typically be handled by the responding officer, who will provide the involved parties with an "exchange slip."
- When Injury is Involved in the Car Accident
When injury is involved, it's imperative to seek medical help immediately. Even if you do not suspect the injury to be serious, you should always seek professional medical help. If you are able, you may assist an injured party to the best of your ability; however, you should not attempt to move an injured person unless you know what you're doing. North Carolina law provides that, unless the caregiver is guilty of wanton conduct or intentional wrongdoing, that person cannot be held liable for damages resulting from the effort to provide assistance.
Keeping these things in mind will help protect you from legal problems if you're ever involved in a car accident. Naturally, when an accident occurs, you may have a hard time remembering all the laws and regulations. The best thing you can do is to remain CALM - then use your best judgement when dealing with the situation. And of course, don't hesitate to seek legal advice if you feel you have been the victim of a serious injury. Richard Flexner and his team of experienced personal injury lawyers are available for legal counseling for a variety of practice areas including automobile, motorcycle, pedestrian and trucking accidents. Call 1-800-FLEXNER (353-9637) to learn more.