Every year, there are about 30,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States.
Now, we’ve all read statistics like that before, right? It’s easy to shake our heads and say, “my, what a tragedy,” and then turn the page on our newspapers and think about something else. That’s because 30,000 people is too large a number to relate to. It doesn’t seem to have a direct connection to daily life.
So try this statistic: one in 84. That’s your lifetime chance of being killed in a car crash.
But, of course, the majority of motor vehicle accidents aren’t deadly. In 2009, there were 10.9 million—that’s right, million—U.S. traffic accidents. On an average day, there are about 330 car accidents in Pennsylvania, and about 240 people are injured in traffic collisions. Even though most of these did not kill anyone, those accidents represent a huge volume of misery: broken bones, amputated limbs, spine injuries causing lifetime paralysis, permanent maiming and disfigurement, and dozens of other disabilities.
Estimates of your overall risk of experiencing a motor vehicle accident vary widely, from 30 percent to a little over 50 percent. Even if we take a number at the lower end of that range as most likely, that means you have about a one-in-three chance during your lifetime of being in a traffic accident, either as a driver or passenger.
One in three is an appreciable risk—one that you should plan for.
Do you know what to do in the aftermath of a Pennsylvania auto accident?
Even if you do not suffer any significant injuries, the sudden jolt of a Dauphin County car crash can startle and panic you. You should expect to be disoriented and confused. Unfortunately, this is exactly the time you need to be alert and focused. Other people’s lives and wellbeing may depend on your ability to remember these seven essential steps to be taken after a vehicle collision:
- Remain calm and assess the situation. Panicking won’t help anyone. Take a moment to collect your thoughts. Take a few deep breaths to regain your composure. You are experiencing a surge of adrenaline that will make it hard to concentrate for a few minutes, but you can fight this response.
- Call for emergency assistance. Call 911 to get emergency responders on the scene, even if it’s not clear anyone has been injured. You may want to obtain the police report for this accident at a future point.
- Treat your own injuries. Perform a quick self-assessment to make sure you are not seriously hurt. If you have any obvious injuries at all, you should accept an ambulance ride to the nearest emergency room. Even if you do not seem to be injured, you should make a point of visiting your primary care doctor in the next day or so for a complete evaluation; some serious injuries may not show obvious symptoms.
- Get people out of immediate danger. If your condition allows it, you can take urgent steps to minimize the danger to others at the scene. Get others to help you, if necessary, in moving vehicles or injured people out of the roadway. Do not move injured people unless their immediate safety requires it; you don’t want to worsen their injuries accidentally.
- Collect information to the highest extent possible. If your condition makes it possible, collect the names and contact information from witnesses. If you drove one of the vehicles involved in the accident, exchange names, contact information, and insurance information with the other driver. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the crash scene, vehicle damage, and physical injuries. Write down the name of the law enforcement officer responding to the scene.
- Contact your insurance company. You should notify your insurance company about the crash within 24 hours. Even if you were a passenger, your own insurance may give you some financial protection if a driver turns out to be uninsured or underinsured. Give only factual statements, not opinions, to your insurance representative. Don’t guess about the value of property damage or your own injuries.
- Talk to a Harrisburg car accident lawyer. The law firm of Schmidt Kramer publishes an extremely useful guide to your legal rights after a Pennsylvania car crash, Who Pays The Bills When You Are Injured In An Automobile Accident?, and we will send a copy to you FREE when you request it by calling (717) 888-8888.
Don’t be bullied into paying for another driver’s mistakes
If your accident was caused by the reckless actions of the driver of the other vehicle, you may be eligible for a financial recovery for your vehicle damage, medical bills, lost time from work, permanent disability, emotional distress, and pain.
Our Harrisburg auto accident lawyers can negotiate with the insurance companies as your legal representatives. In most cases, we can obtain a settlement that meets your needs without taking a case to trial. If you have questions or need legal advice about your Pennsylvania auto claim, call Schmidt Kramer today at 717-888-8888 or (717) 888-8888 toll-free to schedule a free, confidential case review. We take no fee until we are able to win you a damage award or settlement.