When you get into an auto accident, it may be something minor that involves only frustration and annoyance. Yet, it may also be something serious that involves trauma and shock. The immediate aftermath could be confusing and alarming. Many people don’t know what to do when a Missouri auto accident occurs. Unfortunately, your shock and confusion are not going to qualify as excuses for failing to do what you need to do after an accident. For instance, if you fail to stop at the scene, you’re going to get in trouble for that, even if you didn’t understand the severity of the collision. If you fail to gather evidence, that’s going to work against you, even if you didn’t realize it was necessary. Today, we’ll look at the steps that you legally have to take and the steps that you would be wise to take after any Missouri auto accident, whether it is a minor fender bender or a fatal collision.
You Are Legally Required to Stop at the Scene of Any Kind of Auto Accident in Missouri
One of the most serious mistakes that you can make after any kind of Missouri auto accident is to fail to stop at the scene and remain at the scene until you are cleared to leave. You have to come to a complete stop and make sure that nobody is injured. If anyone is injured, you must respond as well as you can to those injuries. You should also contact the police and emergency medical help if it is needed.
If the injuries are severe or life threatening, then calling 911 is your first step after stopping. The 911 operator can help you to respond to those injuries and notify an ambulance. You may receive instructions on performing first aid, CPR, or putting pressure on a wound. The 911 operator may even be able to help you keep everyone calm while waiting for help. They will likely advise you to avoid moving anyone who is injured because doing so could cause further injury or death. Yet, there are some cases where you will have no option but to move an injured person. If they are at risk for being struck by another vehicle and their vehicle cannot be moved or if a vehicle is on fire, then these are examples of exceptions to the general rule of not moving someone who is injured.
As long as you act in good faith in your effort to help those who are injured, you will not be held accountable for making those injuries worse in your attempts to help. Failing to stop at the scene, however, even if it is a minor incident, could result in criminal charges for a hit and run. You could end up spending time in jail, losing your license, paying fines, and facing other penalties for this crime.
You will also need to exchange auto insurance information and contact information after any accident. When the police arrive, you will need to cooperate and answer questions, but you do not have to discuss fault. You should avoid discussing fault or apologizing to anyone until you speak to an attorney.
You Will Need to Collect Evidence After the Missouri Auto Accident to Benefit Your Future Claim
Collecting evidence is not a legal requirement after a Missouri auto accident. Rather, it is an essential step to ensure that you are able to prove that what you claim is actually true. This can make a significant impact on determining who was at fault and how the accident occurred. You should not worry about doing this while you are dealing with the injuries of the accident. But once all injuries are attended to and you are no longer in crisis, you need to either collect evidence or ask someone to do so for you. Following are some steps that you can take to gather evidence at the scene of the accident:
- Gather the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Take photos of the position of the vehicles, the injuries, and the property damage.
- Take photos of any relevant traffic signals or road conditions.
- Write down what you remember while it is fresh in your mind.
- Write down a description of all of the vehicles that are involved in the accident, including the color, the make, the model, and the license plate number.
There are also various forms of evidence that you will need to procure after you leave the scene of the auto accident. Some examples include property damage repair estimates for your vehicle and the records and bills from your medical treatment, which brings us to our next important point.
You Should Get a Full Medical Evaluation After Any Missouri Auto Accident
Many people fail to seek medical treatment after a Missouri auto accident. This happens when someone doesn’t think they are injured or doesn’t think their injuries are severe enough to need treatment. Yet, the reality is that auto accidents can cause shock and an adrenaline rush that hides the symptoms of injuries. You need to seek a full medical evaluation after any Missouri auto accident to ensure that any injuries you may have are identified and treated right away. This not only helps you to get the proper treatment to prevent those injuries from getting worse; it also ensures that you have medical documentation as evidence of the injuries that resulted from the collision. If you fail to seek treatment after an accident, then you may find that your injuries are far worse than you imagined or that you are not able to prove that the accident is what caused them.
Work With the Experienced Missouri Auto Accident Attorneys at the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm
Before you talk to any auto insurance company claims adjuster, you should communicate with a skilled Missouri auto accident attorney. The attorneys at the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm have the experience and legal expertise to help you establish fault and prove the value of your damages. Call today to schedule a free consultation and be prepared to negotiate for a fair settlement.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.