Scottsdale Car Accidents FAQ’s
Car Accident Injury! Now What? After practicing injury law for over a decade, our injury lawyers have learned that the same questions are asked by the clients. Below are answers to some of those questions most frequently asked or that come up following a car accident injury in Scottsdale, Arizona.
What Should I Do after a Car Accident?
What you should do immediately after a car accident depends on the circumstances. The three most important things to consider are: 1) whether you are injured, 2) where you are located and 3) the severity of the crash. If you are injured, it is best to call for emergency services such as an ambulance and law enforcement by dialing 9-1-1 and then remain in your vehicle until they arrive.
Remain In Your Car if You Were Injured In A Car Accident
Moving from your vehicle could make injuries worse. For example, if you have suffered a serious spinal injury, you should not be moving around. Instead, you should wait for emergency medical technicians to arrive in case spinal precautions are appropriate. Spinal precautions may include applying a cervical collar and immobilizing the spine by placing you on a stretcher or gurney. This is to prevent secondary spinal injuries or further worsen a spinal injury.
A second example is if you have suffered a head injury. If you have suffered a serious head injury, you may have blurred vision, delirium, or lose consciousness. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may also experience a “state of being dazed, confused or disoriented” or experience “dizziness or loss of balance.” You certainly should not enter a roadway or leave a secured area if you are experiencing any of these symptoms as having a loss of your mental faculties could lead to a more serious injury.
Exiting Your Car After a Car Accident Could Be Dangerous
Even when not injured, if you are on a busy roadway or other area where exiting the vehicle could be unsafe, it is best to remain in your vehicle until authorities respond. A high traffic area such as a highway or busy arterial road could create a situation where you could be hit by a distracted driver outside your vehicle. Likewise, if you are in an area that is unsafe, such as a high crime area, it would be unwise to exit your vehicle as you may encounter individuals seeking to target you.
If your injuries are such that you feel like you can safely exit the vehicle and you are in an area where you can do so safely, then you may elect to do so. However, whether or not you should move your vehicle to the side of the roadway or out of traffic, depends on the severity of the crash. If the crash is severe, you may not be able to move your vehicle as it may be inoperable. Even if you are able to move your vehicle, it may be unsafe to do so. For example, if you have a gasoline leak or other situation that could lead to fire or an explosion, you should not attempt to move your vehicle, but instead exit it and move a safe distance away.
Arizona Rules and Laws About What to Do After a Car Accident
If the crash is not severe and you were not injured, then it is recommended that you practice “Quick Clearance.” According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, quickly moving your vehicle out of the roadway “provides a safer environment for first responders and keeps travel lanes clear for other vehicles, reducing the chance of a secondary collision.”
In fact, Arizona law requires that a driver involved in a minor, non-injury, car accident move his or her vehicle to safety quickly. Arizona Revised Statute Section 28-674 is entitled “Traffic Accident; Quick Clearance.” This law provides that if an accident occurs and “serious physical injury…and death is not apparent” then the drivers must move the motor vehicles from the “main traveled portion of the roadway” when it: 1) can be done safely and 2) the vehicle is capable of being driven normally and safely.
It is important to remember that the requirement to move the vehicle only applies if a serious physical injury is not involved. What constitutes a serious physical injury is somewhat unclear. It is defined under Arizona Revised Statute Section 13-105 as “physical injury that creates a reasonable risk of death, or that causes serious and permanent disfigurement, serious impairment of health or loss or protracted impairment of the function of any bodily organ or limb.” What is especially ambiguous is what constitutes “serious impairment of health.” Arguably, this could include a variety of injuries and conditions and is open to interpretation. Could a severe whiplash injury requiring six to nine months of medical treatment qualify? How about a concussion that could lead to the early onset of dementia? How about a herniated disc that results in tingling and numbness in the lower extremities? How about a fracture of a small bone in the foot if it results in ongoing pain when running or standing for long periods?
Arizona’s quick clearance law also states that a driver that removes a vehicle from the main portion of the roadway, following a car accident, will not be held liable or at fault for causing the car accident for that reason alone. Nevertheless, if you were injured and the car accident was severe, it may be prudent to leave the vehicles in their resting positions following the accident. Of course, this is when it is lawful to do so. By leaving the vehicles in their resting position, this will allow the investigating officer a chance to view the vehicles. This is especially important if liability is contested and the officer is required to utilize any accident reconstruction techniques in reaching his or her determinations and findings set forth in the police report. By not moving the vehicles, this will provide the officer with greater and more accurate information to determine whose version of events is more likely truthful.
Contact an Injury Attorney After a Car Accident
If you were injured in a car accident in Scottsdale, Phoenix, or the surrounding areas, contact one of our car accident attorneys today. One of our personal injury lawyers will provide a free consultation and give you valuable advice to help you through the process.
Should I Call the Police After a Car Accident?
Individuals who have been involved in a car accident often wonder if they are required to call law enforcement or the police. Calling the police after a car crash is not required. In other words, there is no specific Arizona law or statute requiring someone to do so. However, the Arizona Department of Transportation recommends that individuals involved in a crash notify local law enforcement.
When to Call the Police or Law Enforcement After a Car Accident
Our Scottsdale injury lawyers recommend calling police or law enforcement to the scene of the accident in the following circumstances:
- You have been injured in the car accident
- The crash was severe causing significant damage to the vehicles
- Either vehicle is blocking the roadway or impeding traffic
- Either vehicle has caused damage to adjacent private property such as buildings, other vehicles, yards, fences, etc.
- Either vehicle has caused damage to adjacent public property such as signs, traffic poles, walls, landscaping, sidewalks, etc.
- There is a dispute over liability
- Any passengers of either vehicle or pedestrians were injured as a result of the car accident
- Either vehicle is smoking, leaking fluid, on fire or has the potential to start fire
Call the Police Even If You Think Your Injury Is Not Serious or You are Unsure
Individuals involved in a car accident often times do not realize that they were injured while at the scene. Following the car accident, individuals are in shock or filled with adrenaline. This is commonly referred to as an “adrenaline rush.” An adrenaline rush causes physiological changes in your body. During an adrenaline rush your heart rate elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. This causes the release of hormones and one of the effects of this hormone release is decreased sensitivity to pain.
As a result, a person will not always appreciate that he or she has been injured following a car accident or the extent of his or her injuries. Our injury lawyers recommend that you contact law enforcement in the event you are unsure of your injuries. Minor aches and pains at the scene may be masked by your adrenaline. As your adrenaline wears off, these symptoms can become more intense. The pain may increase and additional complications may develop overnight or over the course of the next few days. As such, it is best to call the police if you have any questions regarding your injuries.
Calling the Police To the Scene Will Help You With Your Injury Claim
For purposes of advancing an injury claim, calling the police to the scene of the car accident has significant benefits. Insurance companies and their adjusters tend to believe that if police were not called to the scene, then the car accident was not that serious. The insurance companies and their adjusters will then think that injuries could not have been caused by the accident. Further, if law enforcement or police are called to the scene and injuries are reported by you, the insurance companies will be less likely to argue that your injury was not caused by the accident or that you were not injured as a result of the car accident.
The Police Will Make a Determination of Who Was At Fault for Causing the Car Accident
The most important reason to call law enforcement after a car accident is that the responding officers will investigate and making a finding as to who was at fault. Typically, the responding officers will take statements from witnesses, passengers and drivers. They will also look for evidence and document the crash scene. If the investigating officer is trained in accident reconstruction, he or she can use those skills to determine impact, speed of the vehicle and other information to determine who caused the collision. Further, the investigating officer can issue citations to the at fault party for any violations of traffic laws that contributed to the car accident.
Although not always, the majority of crash reports (police reports) will determine who was at fault. Insurance companies rely heavily upon the findings of fault in a police report. Almost without exception, if a police report determines that one side is at fault for causing a collision, the insurance companies will follow those findings. If there is no finding of fault by law enforcement and a party denies fault, then his or her insurance company will almost always deny liability.
Should I Call an Injury Lawyer At the Scene
You do not need to call an injury lawyer at the scene of the accident if you fully understand what to do to protect yourself and preserve your injury claim. If you are familiar with all the instructions provided on this website and follow them, you can contact an attorney later and then ask him or her to represent you. If you have any doubts or questions while at the scene of a car accident, then you should reach out to an injury attorney for advice. The attorneys at Scottsdale Injury Lawyers are available 24 hours a day to answer important phone calls with respect to your injury and car accident case. Do not hesitate to call if you are confused, need representation or are just seeking legal advice from an attorney regarding your Scottsdale car accident injury.