When you are in a South Carolina auto accident, you are probably going to be terribly shaken up, in shock, and possibly facing quite serious injuries and property damage. So, what should you do, and what should you avoid doing when this unfortunate situation happens to you?
You Have Legal Responsibilities After An Auto Accident Occurs in SC
The first thing that you need to do after an auto accident occurs in South Carolina is to contact law enforcement and/or emergency medical assistance. Yet, this responsibility will not likely be the very first thing you think of. From a more practical perspective, you’ll likely start by assessing the situation. Are you injured? Are your passengers injured? Is anyone in the other vehicle injured? Did your vehicles wind up in a position where they might be struck by oncoming traffic? Can they be moved?
These are the immediate questions that you’ll need to answer and respond to. You’ll also have to assess whether you and others can or should be safely moved from their current position. In most cases where someone is injured, they should not be moved. This is because it could cause further damage, and even death, to move someone with a spinal injury. However, if the person is directly in harm’s way, in a vehicle that is likely to be struck by oncoming traffic and cannot be moved, or in a vehicle that is leaking oil or gasoline, might explode or catch fire – or a vehicle that is already on fire – then it is obviously better to attempt to quickly move everyone away from that vehicle.
Thus, you will have to assess your situation, your condition, and the condition of everyone else involved to establish exactly what should be done first. Then, you will have to determine whether you should call for emergency help or contact the authorities via a non-emergency phone number. Either way, you’ll need to notify the police and remain on the scene until an officer responds. The only time that this is not the case is when you require urgent medical care and the emergency responders arrive first. If anyone is seriously injured, from your vehicle or any other vehicle, you must contact emergency medical help.
When responding to serious injuries, you need to call 911 and remain calm while discussing the situation. The operator may give you instructions for providing first aid until help arrives. This may include providing CPR to anyone who is not breathing, or providing general emergency treatment for wounds. You may also need to cover the person to keep them warm and try to keep them calm as well, if they are conscious and suffering or afraid. Do not move the person unless you absolutely have to.
You Have Personal Responsibilities After an Auto Accident Occurs in SC
The personal responsibilities that we’re referring to refer to your own legal rights and ability to recover damages after a South Carolina auto accident occurs. You will usually do these things while you’re waiting for an officer to arrive on the scene, though again, it will depend on your situation. If you are too seriously injured to take the following steps, then you may be able to get an uninjured passenger to help, or ask for assistance from a witness. In some cases, this will be the last thing on your mind. However, assuming that you are in a position to do, take the following steps:
- Exchange contact information and insurance information with other drivers.
- Gather contact information from eye witnesses.
- Take photographs of the incident, including position of vehicles, injuries, any relevant road conditions or traffic signs and signals.
- Write down the details of the incident while they are still fresh in your mind.
There Are Some Things You Should Not Do After an Auto Accident Occurs in SC
It is equally important to know what things you should avoid doing after a South Carolina auto accident, and this includes minimizing your discussion of the incident, not admitting to any fault or wrongdoing, not even apologizing for what has happened – as this could be interpreted as an admission of fault. Even if you think you may have been partially at fault, you should not say so.
You will have to answer questions posed by law enforcement and cooperate with them as far as possible, but you do not have to sign anything, and you do not have to admit to having any fault in the situation. You will want to be careful with what you say, and avoid discussing fault.
Further, you may be upset and even angry after an auto accident, especially if you feel that the other driver did something that was wrong, causing the accident and injuries. Yet, it is important to remain as calm as possible and not to act out on any angry or upset feelings you may have.
One of the Most Important Things You Can Do After an Auto Accident Occurs in SC
One of the most important things that you can do after a South Carolina auto accident is to contact an experienced SC auto accident attorney to guide and represent you in seeking compensation for your property damage and injuries. You should do this as soon as possible to protect your rights and make sure that the necessary steps are taken to recover compensation while you still can. Contact the dedicated South Carolina car crash lawyers at the Connell Law Firm to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.