It happens much more often than most people think. According to recent census data, every year 9.5 million vehicles are involved in automobile accidents injuring 2.2 million people and claiming the lives of over 33,000 people. Over 800 people die every year from car wrecks in Alabama alone. Car wrecks can range from the minor inconvenience of a banged up car to complete devastation for a family who lost a loved one.
The most important advice about accidents involves avoiding them and protecting yourself and your family. Drive defensively, always looking out for other drivers not paying attention or acting recklessly, and buckle up (and make sure everyone in the car is buckled up before starting).
If tragedy does strike and a loved one is involved in an accident, here are a couple of reminders to protect their rights and make sure they or their family are compensated for their injuries.
1. Get to know and thank the first responders. They do hard and often thankless work, and their response is often the difference that can save a life or save a limb after a serious accident. They are also a great source of information. They will help you get an accident report which will have the names of witnesses and information on any other drivers. Other witnesses may not be listed that the officers may know about.
2. Document everything you can. The more severe the injuries, the more important this is. It is important to make sure the scene and vehicles have been photographed by the first responders or someone on your behalf. Evidence from an accident starts disappearing the moment a car is removed from the scene, so it is important that documentation of everything begins as soon as possible.
3. Reach out to an experience attorney. Again, the more severe the injuries, the more important this is and the sooner this should be done. Attorneys who regularly handle catastrophic injury and death cases know what to look for and where to look for it. Along with having investigators and experts on call to inspect the scene immediately, they also know how to locate the damaged cars and preserve them to make sure they are not sold by the insurance company and discarded for scrap. Without someone to preserve the vehicles, valuable evidence is lost about the accident and also about whether there was a defect in the vehicle that contributed to make the accident or injuries worse.
4. Spend time with your loved ones. The most important thing in the world is making sure your loved one has the support they need in recovering or in dealing with the loss of another loved one.
Some of the most meaningful work we do as attorneys is represent victims of catastrophic injuries and those who have lost a loved one in an accident, whether a two car collision, an 18 wheeler accident, a roadway defect, or a single car accident where a safety feature did not work. After getting things in order with the family, the next call is often to our office to ask us to simply “handle it” or “look into it” for them. We do not charge a fee for what we do unless we are able to recover for our clients. We know what to do to investigate the case and protect their rights, and they have peace of mind knowing things are being handled so they can focus 100% on their loved ones.
A serious accident can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and months of lost income that a family will need help recovering from the at-fault driver, the driver’s company, or possibly the manufacturer of the vehicle. A serious accident can also mean the loss of a loved one, and though money damages are never a substitute, they are what the courts are able to provide. It is our hope and prayer that you and your family will be safe when out on the roads. However, should a loved one be involved in an accident and have serious injuries or your family is faced with pursuing a wrongful death claim from an automobile accident, make sure you know how to help you and your family protect yourselves going forward.