Motor vehicle accidents are often sudden and shocking for anyone unfortunate enough to be involved in one—especially innocent and unsuspecting passengers. You may be wondering what to do if you suffered an injury as a passenger in a Michigan car accident.
Since getting in a car accident, thankfully, doesn’t happen every day, many passengers don’t know what to do. However, what you don’t know as an injured passenger can hurt you financially, adding to the crash’s physical damages.
Immediately After the Accident
Anyone who rides in a vehicle should know what to do after an accident. As a passenger, you can play an important role should a crash occur. We discuss further below what you can do after an accident that injured you.
Foremost, no matter how big or small the accident, if it caused property damage, injuries, or deaths, the drivers legally must stop. If they don’t, they can face felony hit-and-run charges.
Once the driver stops the vehicle, check if anyone in your vehicle or other vehicles suffered injuries. Render immediate aid if necessary and possible. If the driver leaves the scene, try to get the license plate number, make, model, color, and any other identifying information you can for the vehicle.
Be Sure You Are Safe
When the driver of your vehicle stops, ensure that you and the other vehicles and individuals involved are in a safe area. This may require the driver to move their vehicle to the shoulder or otherwise pull off the road if they can, as state laws require you to move your vehicles from traffic whenever possible after an accident.
Leaving the vehicle unnecessarily in the line of traffic can put you and others at extreme risk of injury or even death. For example, you and others in the area can be in a secondary accident, potentially worse than the first.
Call for Help
If anyone has injuries or you suspect they might call 911 right away. You want EMS to arrive on the scene as soon as possible to assess for injuries. Sometimes this can mean the difference between life and death.
When calling, give the dispatcher this information:
- The location by using street names, highway exits, mile markers, and landmarks
- What side of the road you are on, and what direction you were traveling when the accident happened
- If there are apparent injuries or signs of injury, anyone is in pain, if anyone is unconscious or not breathing
- If the accident scene is dangerous, if anyone is stuck inside a vehicle, or if there are known hazards like leaking fuel or other chemicals, a fire, downed power lines, or traffic problems
Providing as much detailed information as possible helps EMS to reach you as soon as they can and also helps prepare them for what types of heroic actions and life-saving measures they will need to take when they arrive at the accident scene.
Even if there are no apparent injuries, and you don’t need to call EMS, you will still need to call the local law enforcement agency. Some law enforcement agencies will not come to an accident scene on private property, such as a parking lot. However, notify the police. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, most jurisdictions require you to notify the police within a specific period.
If, for some reason, you don’t call the police, or the police will not come to your accident to make an official report, you might be required to report it to the department of motor vehicles. Michigan requires this if the accident involved injuries or the property damage totaled a specific amount.
Obtain Driver Information
Whenever possible, you will need to obtain information from all involved drivers.
- Telephone numbers
- Driver’s license numbers
- Vehicle license plates and vehicle identification numbers (VIN)
- Auto insurance policy information—including their carrier and policy number
You should also ask to see driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, and auto insurance cards to confirm the information is correct and take a picture with your phone.
Gather Evidence When Possible
If you can, obtain the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of other passengers and witnesses. Your Michigan car accident attorney may need to contact them to describe how the accident occurred. They may serve as valuable witnesses in your case.
If you have a camera or a cellphone, get pictures or videos of the damage and the accident scene, including:
- Traffic lights
- Road signs
- Visual obstacles
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- All vehicles from different angles, including any visible damage or leaking fluids
- Skid marks on the road
Get Medical Care
Even if you don’t think you suffered any injuries in the accident, it’s in your best medical and legal interests to see a doctor for a thorough exam as soon as possible. This will help protect your legal claim. For example, if you suffered an injury but wait a week or two to seek medical care, insurance companies often refuse to pay for your medical bills because they can argue that your injuries resulted from something that happened after the car accident.
Additionally, you can have serious injuries and not even know it. Being examined by a doctor as soon as possible after the accident will help diagnose any of these potential injuries and can even save your life.
Having a doctor document your physical assessment, injuries, and plans for follow-up care will help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve after your accident.
Ensure you also continue getting the medical care and therapies recommended by your doctor or other medical providers. If you fail to comply with their recommendations, your inactions can decrease the value of your claim.
As Soon as Possible After the Accident
These actions need to be taken as soon as possible after the accident but not necessarily immediately. Be sure to attend to your immediate and medical needs first.
Make Sure the Driver Reports the Accident to their Insurance Company
Policyholders are contractually obligated to report all accidents to their insurance company as soon as possible. If they don’t, their insurer can deny the claim or even cancel their insurance policy. You can also call and file an injury claim under their policy.
When you call or otherwise report the accident, it’s a good idea to have the information you collected from the other drivers involved with you as well as the accident report.
Expect several information-gathering questions, such as:
- Are you injured?
- Did you require medical care?
- Was anyone else hurt?
- How did the accident happen?
- Where did the accident happen?
Seek Any Necessary Follow-up Treatment
If the emergency room or another healthcare provider treated you, get the follow-up care and treatment you need. Not only is it the best course of action for your health, but it also helps you build a strong legal claim. Whether you need to get additional tests or treatment, or get your injuries rechecked, follow your medical provider’s instructions to the best of your ability.
Stay off Social Media
Don’t post about your accident or injuries on any social media platform. While this is a convenient way to let all of your friends and family know what has happened in your life, it can backfire. Insurance companies may find this information and use it against you in various ways. If you have further questions or concerns about what might happen or why you should refrain from doing this, speak with your attorney before posting anything on social media.
Don’t Talk to Insurance Adjusters
Within a few days of reporting your injuries to the insurance company, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case might call you. They often adjusters seem genuinely concerned for your well-being, chatting with you and acting like your friend. Adjusters do this to make you feel as though they are on your side, which allows them to give you unsolicited advice without you asking any questions.
They might tell you that the insurance company will accept full responsibility for the accident or tell you not to hire an attorney since they will just take more of the benefits the insurance coverage will provide. However, always remember that insurance adjusters aren’t looking out for you or any other injured car accident victim. They are looking out for themselves and their employer.
Please don’t fall for their tactics. They want you to believe they have your best interest at heart, making you more likely to talk openly about the accident, your injuries, and anything else that might benefit them. Perhaps you will tell them about an old injury you had, how you lost your job a few months back, or how you had just left a birthday party before being in an accident. It may all seem like friendly small talk. However, they will take every bit of information they can and twist it for their purposes.
For example, according to most insurance adjusters:
- Your old injury is what is causing your new pain and mobility issues, not the car accident you were just involved in
- You recently lost your job, so now you are taking advantage of this accident to get money and faking or exaggerating your injuries
- You came from a birthday party, so you and the driver must have been drinking when the accident occurred or shortly before
When speaking to an insurance adjuster, provide them with the information they need to do their job, what you are required to give them, and nothing more.
The good news is that once you hire a Michigan car accident lawyer, you won’t have to talk directly to the insurance adjuster or anyone from the insurance company. Your attorney will do that for you, which can protect you from saying something potentially detrimental to your claim. If there is ever a reason for the insurance company to speak with you directly, your attorney will be present with you to protect your interests.
Did You Suffer Injuries as a Passenger in a Car Accident? Hire a Seasoned Michigan Car Accident Attorney
Meeting with a seasoned Michigan car accident attorney after an injury accident is one of the essential steps to take. You won’t know your legal rights and how much your case should be worth unless you do. It is best to meet with one as soon as possible. If you put off meeting with an attorney:
You can lose valuable evidence for your claim.
An attorney can help you gather and preserve evidence supporting your car accident claim. This might include pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and your medical bills. The sooner evidence is collected, the less likely it will be lost, hidden, damaged, or destroyed.
You can miss the lawsuit filing deadline.
Each state has its own statute of limitations, which limits the amount of time injured individuals have to file a legal claim. In Michigan, injured parties have three years from their accident to file a lawsuit if one becomes necessary. Consult an attorney to determine the statute of limitations that applies to your circumstances. The statute of limitations often differs for claims involving minors or government entities.
Suppose you don’t file your lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations. In that case, you will lose your right to pursue compensation through the civil legal system. Meeting with a lawyer as soon as possible helps ensure that you file your claim and lawsuit, if one becomes necessary, on time.
You Could Make Detrimental Mistakes
The sooner you have an attorney on your side, the less likely you are to make seemingly innocent mistakes that can have a substantial negative impact on your case—for example, not following up with your medical providers when you are supposed to, saying something to the insurance adjuster that they can use against you, or posting on social medial about your accident or injuries.
Even though you weren’t a driver in the accident and can’t be held liable for what happened, you still have much at stake. You deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries. The best way to get this compensation is to enlist the professional legal assistance of an experienced Bloomfield Hills personal injury attorney.