North Carolina’s Motor Vehicle Division compiles yearly traffic crash reports; the most recently published report is for 2015. In 2015, auto crashes rose 11% and fatalities rose by 8% from 2014. New Hanover County had 21 total accident fatalities. Accidents involving large commercial trucks are particularly dangerous due to their massive size and weight. With the increasing likelihood of being involved in an accident, you should know the steps to take.
- Stop Vehicle and Remain Calm. Following an accident you must stop, as failure to do so could be a criminal act. Try breathing deeply and remaining calm as you assess whether you are injured.
- Seek Medical Attention or Aid the Injured. If moderately or severely injured, prioritize your health and seek immediate medical attention. If you are not injured, assist others who are and provide first aid if trained to do so. Call emergency medical responders and remember to still have a medical exam as soon as possible to check for any underlying injuries.
- Protect the Scene and Notify Authorities. Position your car close by without impeding traffic. Warn oncoming traffic by raising your hood, using hazard lights and/or flares. Contact the police, as having an accident report generated may be helpful for insurance claims and/or assessment of liability.
- Do Not Sign Documents or Make Statements. Do not provide written or verbal statements, or sign insurance company documents yet. Although unlikely, an insurance adjuster on the scene could ask you questions that are detrimental in potential legal action. Avoid responding to questions or requests about the fault in the accident.
- Exchange Information. Provide and collect the truck driver’s contact and insurance information, and information from others in the accident. Obtain information from any passengers involved and witnesses. You should not express thoughts or observations regarding the causes of the accident, even if you think you may be liable—you may be wrong.
- Document the Scene. Make notes of event details while “fresh” in your mind. Make notes of any features at the scene including traffic signs or signals. Take photographs if possible for future reference.
- Notify Insurance. Contact your auto insurance provider promptly and document the details. Notify the other driver’s insurance company in case the accident has not been reported. Your insurance agent may be a resource for policy assistance.
- Contact an Attorney. If you incurred moderate or severe injuries, seek assistance from a personal injury lawyer. Always forward any insurance offers or documents to your attorney for review, and let them handle further details.
For over 30 years, The Rhine Law Firm, P.C. has defended those suffering injuries and hardship in the Wilmington area from auto and truck accidents. Our practice is 100% dedicated to matters of litigation and we are members of the American and NC Bar Association. Contact the office today for a consultation by calling (910) 501-2474.