Americans often take 911 for granted. It’s an emergency number we can pick up and call when we are having a bad day and need the cavalry to come and give us a hand. Unfortunately for those involved in automobile accidents, making that call doesn’t always mean the police will show up on scene. As budgets tighten and police departments are stretched thin, some are foregoing their responsibility to investigate non-injury automobile accidents. For instance, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was among the first in the nation to announce this policy shift.
This means that it is up to drivers to bear the responsibility of properly documenting their automobile accidents. This is crucial because injuries sustained in an accident may not manifest until long after the accident. In the immediate aftermath of an automobile accident, an individual’s adrenaline helps mask pain. Adrenaline is the body’s natural defense against trauma. When faced with injury, the adrenal glands release adrenaline into the bloodstream so that an individual can “fight the pain” and escape a dangerous situation. It can take hours for the adrenaline to subside and for pain to be felt.
Documenting the Scene
A picture is worth a thousand words. Photographic evidence is critical in showing what damage occurred to the vehicle, and where that damage is located. For example, being rear-ended is a leading cause of whiplash. This injury afflicts more than 4 million Americans every year. It’s impact can be short, or last many years. Photographic evidence that documents precisely where the vehicle was struck can be used to show a direct correlation between the accident and the type of injury an individual is suffering from. When taking photos, no piece of evidence is too small to photograph. The more photographs, the easier it is to recreate the accident scene.
Following an accident, individuals should notify their insurance company immediately. When contacting the insurance company, individuals should make sure to note that police have not responded to the scene of the accident. The individual should follow the directions their insurance provider gives. These instructions should also be documented. The name, employee number, date/time of call, and any other information should be collected and saved. This can help protect an individual should their insurance company attempt to deny a claim based on a technicality.
Seeking Medical Care
Individuals should seek medical care immediately following any automobile accident. Any bruises, bumps, cuts, etc. should be carefully examined. Individuals should visit both their primary care physician and a chiropractor. During these appointments, the individual’s movements during the accident should be conveyed as best as they can be remembered. Further, anyone who was in the vehicle at the time of the accident should be examined.
Non-Investigation is a Growing Concern
Automobile accidents are occurring at an increasing rate. As gas prices drop and the economy improves, people are driving more. This means the potential for accidents and injuries is also increasing. It’s estimated that Americans drove nearly 3.1 trillion miles last year. This number is expected to rise this year. The total number of fatality accidents that occurred is still being tallied, however, it’s estimated that there were just shy of 40,000 deaths on American roads last year. This statistic represents and increase of approximately 14% over 2014. It also represents the highest automobile accident fatality rate since 2007.
This increase in fatality accidents has many insurers raising rates. In particular, Allstate has raised rates 3.9% to compensate for the increase in automobile accident claims. This increase in fatality rates is also one reason police departments are shifting their focus from non-fatality, non-immediate injury accidents. In many jurisdictions, they simply don’t have the manpower to investigate the sheer number of accidents taking place.
The Law in Nevada
Accidents in Nevada which result in more than $750 in damage require notification of the police department. Individuals must file form SR-1 that itemizes the damage and required repairs. This must be submitted to law enforcement within 10 days of an automobile accident. Failing to file this report can result in a suspension of a driver’s license.
Of course, there is the law, then there are insurance requirements. Most insurance companies require individuals to file an accident report regardless of the amount of damage that has occurred. For this reason, individuals involved in an automobile accident should file this form within the 10 day statutory limit. Doing so is the best way to protect an individual from adverse legal action, or policy cancelation.
It is also advisable for individuals to contact a car accident lawyer in Reno. An attorney can help guide an individual to make sure that documentation and evidence is properly collected and retained. This can be critical for seeking compensation should an injury present itself.