Snow may be great for sledding and skiing, and it’s a beautiful backdrop for family holiday photos and scenic winter celebrations, but it’s terrible for drivers. Ice, wind, snow and sleet, combined with the early onset of dark in the winter, create poor visibility and slippery roads, which are perfect for accidents and collisions between vehicles. Winter weather conditions become even more dangerous if a distracted driver is on the road and that distraction could have a direct impact on your safety when you’re out and about.
Obviously, no driver wants to get into an accident. But you can only do so much to protect yourself in your own car — the rest is up to the other drivers who share the roadways. If they have had a few too many drinks, or they are texting or chatting on their phones or simply not paying attention to their surroundings, you are at risk for accidents and collisions. If you’ve been involved in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, you should follow the steps below to ensure you can file a personal injury claim to recover any medical expenses, repair costs and other damages:
- Stay where you are. After a car accident, you should immediately move out of the path of traffic (if possible), and then stay put and wait for help to arrive. Leaving the scene of an accident can be automatically considered a hit-and-run, even if the accident was not your fault. Most minor car accidents are handled by insurance claims, but a hit-and-run is a legal matter, and your accident could be handled by a court of law, at which time you might find yourself charged with criminal activity. Please note: A conviction for leaving the scene of an accident requires a driver’s license suspension for a lengthy period of time. Additionally, if someone is injured or killed, mandatory prison sentences are possible.
- Get the authorities involved. Call 911 to get emergency personnel and a police officer to the scene of your accident. The officer will file a report that you can use in your personal injury claim. Make sure you get the officer’s name and badge number so that you can request a copy of the accident report later. While the officer is there, exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver and make sure you physically see documentation (driver’s license, insurance card, etc.) so you can verify that it’s the real information you need.
- Take notes. Documenting the evidence of the crash is crucial for the investigation and your claim. Jot down the other driver’s information, including the make, model, and license plate number on his or her car. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and any surrounding clues that will help recreate the accident, if necessary.
- Get checked out. Even if you feel fine after a car accident, visit your family doctor just to double check. You may not see any bruises or bumps, but some injuries take longer to make themselves known to you. If you’ve been injured as a result of your accident, your medical bills can be included in a personal injury claim.
Winter weather makes bad or negligent drivers even worse, and if you’re injured as a result, you could be entitled to damages. Contact a New Jersey car accident attorney at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, for more information on your case.