Nobody wants to get into a car accident in Las Vegas, but it happens to thousands of drivers and passengers every year. And for each of them, the steps they take afterward can have a significant impact on their health, finances, and legal rights.
Here is an overview of actions you may want to take in the aftermath of a Las Vegas car accident. We’ve divided them into three periods of time—at the scene, after leaving the scene, and over the next few days and weeks.
For the most part, nothing we suggest here is set in stone. If you don’t take these steps, you probably still have valuable rights to claim compensation for your injuries and losses. And whenever you read this, the most reliable way to protect your rights going forward is to contact an experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney who can answer your questions and handle the process of pursuing insurance claims and lawsuits for damages.
At the Scene
If you happen to be reading this blog post at the accident scene, here are a few quick suggestions. We’ll keep them short, since you have no time to waste.
Do not panic. Take a deep breath. Check yourself for injuries first, then your passengers. If you can drive your car, move it to the side of the road. If and only if it’s safe to do so, check on the occupants of other vehicles and assist them in moving to safety.
Summon first responders immediately to protect your health and safety. You have a legal duty to call 911 if anyone’s hurt or the vehicles are damaged. But regardless, calling for help is always the safest and most responsible course of action.
Stay Put and Administer First Aid
Wait for first responders to arrive. In the meantime, don’t move from your place of safety. Administer first aid if you can do so without putting yourself or others in danger.
For Now, Do Not Discuss Fault or Apologize
This isn’t the time to be laying blame for what happened. Don’t get into a confrontation with the other driver about who was at fault. Do not admit fault yourself. And do not say anything that could sound like an admission of fault like that you’re sorry or that you should have avoided the collision.
Obey First Responders
Once first responders (police and EMTs) arrive, they’ll take control of the scene. Do as they say. Be polite and cooperative. Tell them about known injuries. Let an EMT examine you. Agree to take the ambulance to the emergency room if they think you need it.
If possible, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Don’t worry if this isn’t possible. You can also get this information from the police later.
Take Pictures or Videos
If—and only if—it’s safe to do so, take your own photos or video of the accident scene. Try to capture as much of the vehicles, the road, and the surroundings as possible, while respecting other people’s privacy and dignity (no photographing injured victims without their permission). Do not take any safety risks or get in the way of first responders.
After Leaving the Scene
Consider following these suggestions if you’re reading this in the minutes or hours after leaving the scene of your Las Vegas car accident.
Seek Prompt Medical Attention
Health and safety should remain your top priority after leaving the scene of a Las Vegas car accident. We strongly urge every crash victim to go to the doctor right away—preferably immediately, but no later than the first 24 hours after the accident whenever possible.
Seek prompt medical attention even if you feel ok. Research has shown time and again that crash victims struggle to assess their own state of health after an accident. The effects of stress and adrenaline on the body can make a major injury feel like nothing more than a minor ache, for now. But if you don’t seek care, your condition could worsen and potentially endanger your life or long-term health.
Don’t be choosy about the provider you consult for initial medical attention after a Las Vegas car accident. Prioritize getting in to see a medical professional immediately. It’s better to go to a hospital emergency department or an urgent care center than to wait days for an appointment with your family doctor.
Seeking medical care also protects your legal rights. The records of the examination and the treatment you receive can serve as valuable evidence of the harm the car accident caused you. Conversely, if you don’t seek care, insurance companies and defense lawyers will likely blame you for your injuries and argue that you don’t deserve compensation for them.
Report the Accident to Your Auto Insurance Company, But With Caution
If you were a driver in the crash, you may have an obligation to report it to your auto insurance company promptly, as a condition of your policy covering expenses. Follow those requirements, but be careful in doing so. You might be their customer, but your insurance company will still look for any available reason to avoid paying for the costs of your Las Vegas car accident.
In reporting the crash to your auto insurer, stick only to the bare-bones facts of what happened. Do not lay blame on others, and do not say anything suggesting you blame yourself—such as that you’re sorry about what happened, or that you should have seen the other car coming.
Your insurer may give you instructions about having a mechanic assess the damage to your vehicle and estimating its repair cost. You may not necessarily have to use the mechanic your insurer suggests, however, so be sure to check the terms of your policy (or have a skilled lawyer do so for you).
Insurance companies will sometimes try to manipulate the damage assessment process to reach a result that minimizes the amount they pay for your vehicle repair or replacement. If you question their valuation of the damage or their proposed payment for a new car, don’t agree and contact an attorney right away.
In the Next Days and Weeks
Taking the steps below in the days and weeks after your Las Vegas car accident can go a long way in protecting your rights to compensation for your losses.
Follow Your Medical Treatment Plan
It’s not enough to go to the doctor once after a Las Vegas car accident. You must continue to do as your doctor tells you to heal from any injuries you suffered. That means, for example, going to follow-up appointments, scheduling consultations with specialists, taking your medication, doing physical therapy, and limiting your activities as directed. Any deviation from your treatment plan can put your health at risk.
It can also harm your legal rights. Your ability to secure maximum compensation for your injuries may depend on proving that you did everything reasonably necessary to take care of yourself. Insurance companies and defense lawyers will use any lapse in your commitment to healing as a reason to reduce what they owe.
Obtain the Police Accident Report
A police accident report contains useful information about the crash that you and your car accident attorney will probably need when dealing with insurance and seeking compensation for your losses. Within a week or two of your accident, you can request a report from the police department that responded to the scene. Here are the links to requesting a crash report from the Nevada Highway Patrol and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. You will have to pay a small fee for your report copy.
Do Not Give a Recorded or Sworn Statement, Yet
Insurance companies and accident investigators may ask you to give a recorded or sworn statement about your Las Vegas car accident. Don’t do it—at least not yet.
Before giving any statement, it’s critical to consult with an experienced car accident injury lawyer about your rights and legal duties. In many cases, you have no obligation to give any statement about what happened, and doing so can only harm your rights. But in some cases, you may have to give a statement or it may serve your interests to do so.
Let a skilled lawyer advise you about giving statements before you say anything recorded or under oath to an insurance adjuster or accident investigator. That’s the safest way to make sure talking doesn’t undermine the value of your car accident injury claim.
Do Not Sign Anything or Agree to a Settlement, Yet
The party at fault for your Las Vegas car accident, or that party’s liability insurance company, may contact you directly with an offer to settle your claim. Do not sign anything they send you or agree to anything they offer, without first talking to a skilled lawyer.
Settlement offers made directly to car accident victims almost always fall well short of the amount victims have a legal right to demand as damages. Insurers make them in hopes a victim will jump at what seems like easy money. But taking that money comes with a catch—it always requires you to give up your rights to sue the insurer or at-fault party for additional damages in the future. Taking the money runs a high risk of leaving you without the financial support you need to pay your expenses and heal from your trauma.
The most reliable way to maximize the value of any settlement in your Las Vegas car accident case is to ask an experienced attorney to negotiate with at-fault parties, insurers, and defense lawyers on your behalf. A seasoned car accident lawyer can almost always get you far more than what they initially offered, all while protecting your valuable rights.
Stay Off Social Media and Avoid Talking About the Accident
These days, we live our lives online. So it’s natural to want to post about your Las Vegas car accident and injuries. But doing so might not be in your best interest.
Insurance companies and defense lawyers have learned to monitor and use social media posts as a way to undermine damage claims. They frequently take statements you make on your timeline out of context, twisting your words to make it look like you aren’t as badly hurt as you claim, or that you should bear some of the blame for your crash.
The same goes for your offline statements to co-workers or friends. Aggressive insurance investigators have been known to eavesdrop on or follow crash victims, hoping to catch them saying or doing something that undermines their claim.
The safest course of action after a Las Vegas car accident is to stay off social media, and to avoid talking about what happened as much as possible. We know it’s impossible for most car accident victims to stay completely silent. But exercising caution in who you talk to and what you tell them about your Las Vegas car accident can protect your rights.
Don’t Wait to Connect With a Lawyer
Your legal right to demand compensation for your Las Vegas car accident injuries comes with an expiration date of no more than two years, and possibly as little as a few months. If a deadline for taking legal action expires, you could end up with nothing.
Connecting with an experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer as soon as possible is the most reliable way to avoid making needless, costly mistakes. All reputable Las Vegas car accident lawyers offer free consultations for crash victims, making it easy and risk-free to learn about your rights to compensation.
Contact an Experienced Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyer Today
Following the suggestions above can protect your rights after you get hurt in a Las Vegas car accident. But regardless of how long it’s been since your crash or how many of those tips you’ve followed, consulting with an attorney today can put you in the strongest possible position to obtain the money you need to pay expenses and move on with your life.
So, don’t wait. If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a Las Vegas car accident, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney today for your free case consultation.