Critical steps for drivers in Oklahoma to take after car accidents

Drivers in Oklahoma should be prepared for car accidents by knowing what to do at the scene and during the days or weeks afterward.

In 2014, an average of 187 car accidents occurred every day in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. Given this high accident rate, it's likely that most drivers in Tulsa will be involved in a car crash at some point. This makes it essential for any motorist in the state to know what steps to take after surviving anything from trivial to serious car accidents.

At the scene

According to U.S. News, a driver's first priorities after an accident should be clearing the roadway, if possible, and reporting the incident. Even if no one seems to have sustained injuries, motorists can benefit from notifying law enforcement authorities of any accidents that have caused serious property damage. The official police report may be a valuable resource during any future insurance disputes. Motorists should also promptly report the accident to their insurance providers.

Next, motorists should secure any information that they may need when pursuing an insurance claim. This includes the other driver's name, phone number and address; the other vehicle's license plate number and description; and the other driver's insurance information. Motorists may also benefit from taking photographs of the scene and collecting contact information from potential witnesses.

Finally, drivers or passengers may want to jot down any facts that they remember about the accident. Memories of traumatic incidents are not always as clear as people expect, and these memories may become distorted each time that they are recalled. Writing down an account can help accident victims clearly remember the incident and describe it consistently to law enforcement authorities, insurance claims adjusters and other sources.

After the accident

During the days after an accident, drivers or passengers should pay attention to warning signs of undetected or late-onset car accident injuries. According to KTAR News, neck, shoulder or back pain may indicate soft tissue injuries. Bruising, swelling or abdominal pain may signify internal bleeding. Headaches or changes in cognitive function may be symptoms of a brain injury. Numbness is another warning sign of potentially serious injuries that accident victims should be alert to.

People who have diagnosed injuries or symptoms that suggest serious injuries should consider consulting with a personal injury attorney. Meeting with one of these attorneys can be advisable for the following reasons:

  • The insurance claim process can be confusing to laypeople, and mistakes or missed deadlines may provide grounds for claim denial.
  • Poorly considered statements to the other driver's insurance company may reduce an accident victim's likelihood of receiving needed compensation.
  • Insurance settlements are final, which means that people who accept inadequate settlements are left without future recourse.

An attorney may be able to provide advice on navigating the claim process and seeking an appropriate amount of compensation, given the nature of the accident and injuries.

Securing needed help

In Oklahoma, car accident injury victims who intend to seek compensation must make claims within two years of the date of the accident. To ensure that the accident and resulting injuries are properly documented and claimed within that timeframe, victims may benefit from meeting with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.