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What you need to know if you are involved in an auto accident

Vehicle accidents happen everyday throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area.  In fact, recently, I was a victim in a car accident as I made my normally morning commute to the office.  This wasn’t the first time I have been involved in an auto accident, but it was a harsh reminder to me of how scary they can be and just how much they can disrupt your normal life.

One of the most frightening things about being involved in a car accident is wondering whether you handled it correctly.  When an accident happens, there is so much going on around you, so much on your mind, it can be difficult, almost impossible, to know whether you have done everything you need to do to protect yourself and your rights.  The first step is always to make sure you, and your vehicle if possible, are off the road and in a safe location.  Then, regardless of how severe you initially believe the accident is or isn’t, it is important to contact the authorities to make a record of the event.  Then, exchange insurance information and make sure to get names and contact information for all of the people who were involved or witnessed the accident.  Unfortunately, this is where many people stop, but this is generally only the beginning of the process.  Stopping here leads to injuries that initially go unaddressed which can mean you will later be held responsible for medical bills that were not your fault.

Once the police arrive, they will ask if anyone is injured.  There is a tendency to say no, even if you do feel some pain.  I have to confess, I felt the same tendency.  Despite being a lawyer and understanding the process, my knee jerk reaction was to say I was alright, despite having some pain in my neck and back.  Remember, this is no time to try and hide or cover up potential injuries.  Be honest with the investigator and let him know if you are in pain, some injuries, even severe injuries, can manifest with little pain initially due to the adrenaline rush that occurred during the accident.  I actually worked on a case where a woman had her neck broken as a result of an accident but didn’t realize because it the initial pain wasn’t serve.

After the reporting is complete and any necessarily medical treatment has been administered, it is important that you contact an attorney to discuss your case.  Generally, within a day or two of the accident the other party’s insurance company will be calling you requesting a “recorded statement” and asking for your recollection of the accident.  Often times, these insurance companies use bullying tactics in an effort to try and convince you that the accident was your fault in order to shift the burden of liability to you.  By speaking to an attorney immediately after your accident, you can get the legal advice you will need to help you protect your legal rights.  It is essential to make well-informed and educated decisions in the days and weeks immediately following your accident in order to protect your property and your rights and, generally, speaking with any attorney is the best way to accomplish that goal.

The attorneys at Hipskind & McAninch always offer free consultations to potential clients regarding their rights and obligations following an automobile or trucking accident.  We encourage anyone involved in a vehicle accident to contact one of our experienced attorneys at: 618.641.9189 (IL) | 314.312.2930 (MO) |

By: Brady M. McAninch

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