Last month, when talking about a recent spell of train accidents, we touched on a woman who was struck and killed by a train at a road crossing. After her car had become trapped between crossing gates, the woman did not quickly enough abandon the vehicle, and was killed when the train arrived at the intersection. This tragedy underscores a facet of human behavior which, recently, has proved eminently dangerous. Too often, our sentimentality takes over the more rational part of our brain, and we forget that no material item is worth risking your life over.
Late Sunday night, a Long Island woman made a similarly fatal mistake. It was nearly 4 o’clock in the morning when Brittany Leith’s Nissan collided with the center median on the Southern State parkway, which flipped the car onto its roof, crushing the metal side panels and shattering the windows. Ms. Leith survived this accident intact, and was able to crawl through one of the broken windows and escape to the side of the road. After making it through the catastrophic-looking accident relatively unscathed, Ms. Leith was struck and killed by a passing car as she attempted to return to her overturned vehicle. Apparently, she wished to retrieve some of her belongings. Though onlookers pleaded with her to wait, Ms. Leith put her life in jeopardy by crossing the multi-lane parkway.
The chaos continued when a responding police cruiser was rammed from behind, accidentally, by a passing motorist. The officer inside was taken to nearby Good Samaritan hospital and treated for minor injuries.
In both of these instances, instead of distancing themselves from dangerous, the victims unwisely placed themselves back into harm’s way.
What to Do After an Accident
Car accidents are terrible for everyone involved. In the aftermath of an accident, it’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you, especially if you or someone you know has been injured. However, by adhering to the following steps, you will not only increase the overall safety quotient of the situation, but you’ll drastically improve your ensuing legal standing as well.
Importantly, you should notice the order of the following tips:
- If you’re physically able, and it is safe to do so, you should attempt to extricate yourself and any children from the vehicle. Damaged cars are prone to fires and explosions. Unless, of course, you or someone else in your party is experiencing neck or back pain. In these cases, it is best to wait for trained medical emergency workers. Else, remain vigilant, check for oncoming cars, and then remove your party from the roadway.
- Do NOT, however, vacate the scene of the crash entirely. Doing so is a felony, and a warrant for your arrest will be issued.
- Assess PHYSICAL damage before PROPERTY damage. Promptly call 9-1-1 and, if safe, attend to others who have been injured. Only after you’ve called the police should other matters be addressed.
- Remember: stay out of traffic! Exchange information with other drivers on the side of the road. Make sure to collect names, phone numbers, driver’s license information, license plate numbers, and insurance information.
- Gather as much additional information as possible. This means taking pictures of the damage done to your car, taking pictures of the damage incurred by other cars, talking to eyewitnesses and gathering their testimonies, keeping careful track of all correspondence between you and your insurance company, and filing any medical treatment documents away safely. You may also be required to hire 3rd party damage evaluators through your insurance company. If you have been in an accident, and you believe that it was not your fault, information can prove a valuable ally. The more you can collect, the better, as most information can be used as evidence in a court of law.