Your Rights After a Car Accident
No one plans to be involved in a car wreck, which is why the term “accident” was invented to describe this type of event. But the fact is, car accidents are on the rise throughout the U.S., which means more and more people’s lives are being changed due to this unfortunate occurrence.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation records, there were a total of 116,609 car accidents in Arizona in 2015, with 811 fatalities, 36,139 injuries and nearly 80,000 wrecks that resulted in property damage. The total number of crashes in 2015 increased by 6.33 percent over the total number of crashes in 2014.
Total deaths that resulted from car accidents also spiked by nearly 16 percent from 2014 to 2015, as did alcohol-related deaths (9.67%), alcohol-related injuries (.94%), urban deaths (19.24%) and urban injuries (3.93%).
Car accidents in urban areas accounted for more than 94,000 of the total wrecks, and sadly, 97,546 collisions were between two or more vehicles.
Every day in Arizona in 2015, 2.45 people died because of a car accident, and 146 people were injured.
There may be a number of factors to explain these increases from 2014 to 2015, but the grim takeaway is this: car wrecks happen, and preparation may be one of the keys to a full physical and psychological recovery.
What Are Your Rights After a Car Accident?
After you’ve been involved in a car accident that was caused by a third party, there are certain rights you hold that are not negotiable:
- You have the right to compensation for personal injury and property damage – if you suffered injuries in an accident caused by someone else, you have the right to pursue a legal claim against the person or group of people responsible.
- You have the right to contact the police – you are allowed to call the police or other law enforcement personnel in the area to file an official report regarding the accident. A police report is often one of the main pieces of evidence used to support a personal injury claim.
- You have the right to talk to witnesses – you can and should seek out any witnesses to the car accident and obtain their contact information. You should also direct those witnesses to tell their story to the police so that it is included in the official police report.
- You have the right to take photos – nearly every smart phone has a high-definition camera, so taking pictures of the accident scene, including damage to your vehicle and the other vehicles involved, is easy to do. You should also take photos of any injuries you suffered.
- You have the right to obtain medical attention – if your injuries require medical attention, you have the right to treatment.
- You have the right to remain silent – although this is usually a legal right for people arrested for a crime, it applies in the aftermath of a car accident as well. There is no law that compels you to speak to the other party, or the other party’s insurance company or any insurance investigator.
Things You Should Avoid
There are also certain things you should avoid doing after a car wreck, because they can compromise your legal claim:
- Don’t admit anything – a third party that caused the accident may try to entice you into saying something that can be used against you in a future claim.
- Don’t leave the scene – unless you are seriously injured and require immediate medical attention, it’s important to remain at the scene and wait for responding police officers to arrive.
- Don’t agree to a private settlement – the third party responsible for the accident may try to offer you a quick cash settlement to avoid you filing a legal claim.