Few cities can offer the excitement of Las Vegas. With its glamorous casinos, family-friendly attractions, shows, cuisine, and nightlife, Vegas promises a great time for all—unless, of course, that excitement is dampened by a car accident.
Sadly, car accidents abound in Las Vegas due to distracted tourists trying to navigate new territory, inebriated motorists, and high traffic. If you are injured in a car crash in Vegas or surrounding areas, there are some critical steps that you should take afterward that will have a big effect on the future of your health and finances.
At the scene of the accident
No one heads out of the driveway or parking lot expecting to get into a car accident, so it’s normal to feel frightened and overwhelmed in the aftermath of a crash. But if you are able to take the following actions, you can ensure a far better outcome.
- Call for help. If you have reason to believe that your injuries (or those of others involved in the crash) constitute an emergency, call an ambulance. Mere minutes make a difference in the case of life-threatening injuries, so act quickly. If your injuries are not severe, you can move on to the following steps.
- Call the police. You should report the car crash to the nearest police station. If the accident was minor, they might not come to the scene, but it’s still important to make the report.
- Exchange information. If you are not severely injured and can get out of your car, exchange information with the other motorist to include:
- Phone number
- Car registration number
- Insurance company name and phone number
- Insurance policy number
- Driver license number
- License plate number
Even if you were only involved in a fender-bender, this is still a vital step. If the other party caused the accident and you end up with injuries that manifest later, you need to make sure that you have a way to seek recourse.
If the other party does not have insurance, gather all of the other contact information that you can (to include name, phone number, and license plate number). If you do not have insurance, you should still get the other person’s insurance information because you can still collect damages if the accident was their fault.
- Talk to witnesses. Witness testimony can sway a personal injury case, but witnesses won’t wait around forever so move quickly to get their contact information. You can even have them write down or make a video or audio recording of what they witnessed if they are willing to do so before leaving the scene.
- Photograph the scene. Cell phones really come in handy here. If you’re well enough to document the scene in photos, take pictures of the following:
- The general scene of the accident (intersection, parking lot, etc.)
- Traffic lights or signs that are relevant to the accident
- The cars involved in the accident (and their license plates)
- Skid marks
- Damage to your car and/or the other person’s car
- Your injuries
It’s hard to dispute photographic evidence so err on the side of taking too many pictures. If you’re not well enough to take pictures yourself, you can ask one of your passengers or someone else at the scene to take photos on your behalf.
- Move your car, if appropriate. Nevada law states that “if the driver’s vehicle is creating a hazard or obstructing traffic and can be moved safely, move the vehicle or cause the vehicle to be moved out of the traffic lanes of the roadway to a safe location that does not create a hazard or obstruct traffic.”
After leaving the scene
- See a doctor. Even if you feel OK at the scene of the accident, neck and head injuries commonly develop over time. You may find yourself experiencing neck pain from whiplash or head pain from a concussion after a day or two. It’s best to get checked out by a physician who can detect problems that you may not even notice yourself.
- Contact a personal injury attorney. If you are injured in a car accident due to the fault of another driver, it’s best to start working with a qualified car accident injury attorney immediately. These attorneys can help you get compensation for property damage, medical bills, lost wages, etc.
An attorney can help you deal with the other driver’s insurance company. Remember that insurance companies have one thing in mind: their bottom line. That means that they will use all kinds of tactics to get you to admit fault, downplay your injuries, attribute your injuries to a prior accident or condition, accept a settlement that is lower than you deserve, etc. An experienced personal injury lawyer can spot these tactics and shut them down. They can ensure that you don’t say anything that would damage your case and bear the stress of communicating with the insurance officials so that you can concentrate on recovering from your accident.
- Document everything. This includes the details of the accident (you’re likely to forget them if you don’t commit them to writing), symptoms from your injuries, how your injuries are affecting your ability to work, lost wages, etc. The more you can tell your attorney about how this accident has affected your life, the better equipped they will be to build a strong case on your behalf.
Your settlement amount will depend on a number of factors, including the nature of your injuries, the toll they have taken on your earning power, the insurance coverage that you and the other driver have, and the degree to which your attorney can prove fault on the part of the other driver.
Remember that in the State of Nevada, personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years of the accident date. These cases can take a while, so don’t expect an immediate resolution. Many attorneys work on contingency fees, however, meaning that they won’t charge you until you have been paid a settlement.
We talk a lot about how to avoid car crashes, but there’s not as much information about what to do when one actually happens. Even the best drivers are not immune so be prepared to react with these steps if you become the victim of a car crash in the Las Vegas area.