What To Do When You've Been in an Accident

 When it comes to car accidents, there’s a broad spectrum of damage and the emotions that accompany it. From the bitter annoyance of your car getting bumped in a parking lot to the absolute turmoil of a more serious, life threatening accident. Where ever an accident falls on the spectrum, there is one emotion that can follow any accident: dread. In the weeks following a very minor incident in a crowded parking garage, I felt this dread. My driving became hyper aware, nervous that a possible accident was around ever corner. While this rapt attention is certainly appropriate, the dread only subsided when I recognized how to react when an accident does occur. In this post today, we’ll discuss what to do when you’re in an accident.

Keep in mind, every accident is different. Some steps apply more to certain types of car accidents than others. Think of each step as being prefaced with “as necessary.”

  1. Stay calm!

During a car accident, even the most minor ones, your adrenaline shoots up! It is hard to stay focused on getting the proper information from the other driver and assessing the situation. While this is not entirely a bad thing, as you’re often focusing on your and your passengers’ physical well-being, it can present an obstacle if you’re unable to exchange insurance information, call the police, or remain safe at the scene of the accident.

2. Call the police.

If there is significant property damage, bodily injury, or death, this step is absolutely crucial. Unfortunately, without a police report of the accident, the accident can become a he said/she said circumstance. Police officers can mitigate the confusion in these instances. Keep in mind, without a police report, it’s hard for the involved insurance carriers and attorneys to truly understand or prove what actually happened.

3.  Assess Injuries.

When our clients choose the Katz team, there is one thing we always emphasize over everything else: get better! There is nothing more important than getting the medical treatment you need after an accident, both immediately and in the days and months afterwards.

Immediately following an accident, it is crucial to assess the injuries of all those involved. At times, you may be called upon to help administer first aid or request it yourself. In some circumstances, reacting quickly can be the difference between harm and heartbreak. As necessary, seek medical attention at the scene and proceed to the hospital as needed.

4. Exchange Information.

Don’t expect the other driver to volunteer their insurance information immediately. For a range of reasons, this step can be forgotten or ignored, but it is absolutely crucial. Do you best to gather their name, insurance provider, policy number, car make and model, and license plate number. Be courteous with the other driver, but don’t place blame on either party (e.g. “I’m so sorry I turned too early…”). Immediately following an accident, it is sometimes unclear what actually caused the accident and who was at fault. Don’t assume legal liability.

5. Gather witness contact information.

While it is generally the police officer’s responsibility to gather witness statements, don’t assume they will always do so. When the cirumstance allows, ask witnesses what they saw and request their contact information. This can always help if there is a question of liability.

6. Contact Insurance Providers

As soon as you can, report the incident to your auto insurance provider.

7. Call a Personal Injury Attorney.

Many, if not most, personal injury attorneys offer free consultations on your accident. At Katz, Stepp, Wright and Fleming, we seek to understand the nature of the accident as a whole, and for that reason, we will ask you questions regarding the accident and any injuries you or your passengers sustained. Keep in mind that it is in the interest of the insurance company to settle the claim quickly, at times without waiting for you to be treated sufficiently for your injuries. At our office, our job is to make sure you get the settlement you need to help you recover your losses and to reach maximum medical improvement.

Unfortunately, in the hustle and bustle of life, accidents happen. When they do, follow these steps as best you can and you’ll feel greater peace of mind in your time of stress and confusion.

If you have been in an accident, call us at 404-240-0400 for a free consultation.

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Company Introduces Inflatable Motorcycle Vest to Prevent Injuries

Motorcyclists are often seriously injured when involved in a crash. The most deadly of those injuries are head injuries. However, other injuries, including those that affect the person's neck and back may also leave a rider or passenger severely injured. One company has introduced an inflatable vest that will help reduce the risk of motorcycle injuries in an accident.

The inflatable vest has been developed by Spidi, and the vest is called the Neck DPS Airbag Tex Vest. According to Spidi, wearing the lightweight vest provides additional protection to riders and passengers who may be involved in a fall or collision. 

The vest has a double cushion that wraps itself around the neck region, reducing the risk of serious or fatal injuries in an accident. Wearing the vest also allows the motorcyclist to roll on the ground after impact, thereby reducing the potential for serious injuries when the person lands on asphalt. The vessel inflates in .2 seconds after a rider is thrown from their bike, and inflates with carbon dioxide from a canister. It is fairly lightweight at 420 grams. The vest can simply be remove after use, and recharged.  

Neck injuries in a motorcycle accident can leave a person completely or partially paralyzed, and in serious cases, result in death. A neck or spinal fracture can occur even if a person is wearing a helmet. There are few devices currently available to help reduce the risk of these types of injuries, which have terrible emotional and economic impacts on victims and their families.

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Drowsy Driving Is More Dangerous Than Many Believe

Sleep deprivation is far more common in the American population than many people realize. Unfortunately, far too many sleep-deprived American adults and teenagers don't think twice about getting behind the wheel when they're completely fatigued. According to statistics, 50% of adult drivers say that they have operated a motor vehicle in the past year while completely exhausted. 

Many motorists who would never dream of driving after consuming alcoholic beverages fail to recognize the potential for disaster when reflexes slow due to drowsiness. According to one study recently published in the journal Sleep, people who suffer from sleep difficulties or sleep disorders are twice as likely to die in a car accident. One of the more common sleep disorders is insomnia, but people who have trouble falling or staying asleep may also suffer from another disorder called sleep apnea.

In addition to failing to recognize how serious drowsy driving is, many drivers do not understand how to prevent it. According to one recent study, most motorists who want to remain awake roll-down the window, splash water on their faces, or turn music volume up to prevent themselves from falling asleep. According to the study, those tactics are ineffective, and the only method that really works to prevent drowsy driving is taking a nap. It makes sense to pull over somewhere safe, and take a break for at least 30 minutes to feel refreshed.  It should be noted that caffeine is a stop gap measure which can help a person remain alert, but its effectiveness tends to be short term.    

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Riding an Adult-Sized ATV Can Be Deadly for a Child

Pediatricians and child safety advocates have long known of the dangers involving children and adult all-terrain vehicles (ATV). However, according to a new study, children who ride adult-sized ATVs may have the highest risk of suffering fatal injuries in an accident.

According to the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, fatal accidents were most likely to involve children riding adult-sized ATVs, or not wearing a helmet while riding. In 95% of the fatal ATV accidents analyzed in the study, the victims were riding large vehicles at the time. In spite of all the media attention on the dangers of these vehicles, far too many parents allow their children to drive adult-sized ATVs. Your child should not ride in an adult-sized ATV, even as a passenger.

Here’s a fact many parents may not know; in the United States, more children die in ATV accidents than in bicycle accidents. That’s partly because the dangers of riding on such vehicles isn’t fully appreciated by parents. In addition, the great majority of children do not have the kind of physical or cognitive maturity that is needed to operate an adult-sized ATV.

The study’s results were based on an analysis of fatalities in ATV accidents between 1985 and 2009. The number of fatalities involving children in these accidents increased significantly between 2001 and 2004, which some believe is linked to the popularity of heavier ATVs during this period of time.

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Young Males in Large, New Vehicles More Likely to Survive Accidents

Being male, driving a large vehicle, or driving a new vehicle –these were some of the factors that are common to people who survive serious accidents. That data comes from a study that was conducted at the Indiana University School of Public Health.

The researchers reviewed more than 1,100 head-on accidents, and found that people between the ages of 15 and 24 were involved in more head-on accidents than drivers in other age groups. The researchers were able to identify those factors that were common to people who survived serious accidents. They found that while people in the 15 to 24 age category were involved in approximately 21% of all head-on accident, they had a fatality rate that was just 39%. That was the lowest fatality rate among all the other age groups that were involved in head-on accidents.

In addition, younger male drivers seemed to have the lowest risk of dying in a head-on accident. Women were much more likely to die in head-on accidents, although it isn't exactly clear why this is so. Besides gender, the size of vehicle also impacted a person's fatality risk. For years now, Atlanta car accident lawyers have been aware that driving larger vehicles like SUVs or pickup trucks is linked to a much higher chance of surviving a serious collision. These cars provide much greater protection against fatal injury, and have higher crashworthiness. The study also found that driving a new vehicle, seatbelt use, and airbag deployment increased a person's chances of surviving an accident.  

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White House Names December National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

 When most people think of the holiday season, they imagine cookies, presents, and parties. It is a time to spend with family and friends, celebrating love and togetherness. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also a time of increased danger on the roads. With inclement weather and more drivers on the roads, traffic accidents are common at this time of year. In addition, one of the major causes of accidents during the holidays is drugged and intoxicated drivers.

The White House is observing National Impaired Driving Prevention Month this December. While the perils of drunk driving are well known, drugged driving can be just as dangerous. Even prescription drugs can impair perception, reaction time, judgment, and motor skills. In an extensive survey done by the National Highway Traffic Safety in Administration in 2007, one in eight nighttime, weekend drivers tested positive for illicit drugs. In 2012, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 10.3 million adolescents and adults admitted to having driven under the influence of drugs within the past year. In 2009, one in three fatally injured drivers with known drug-test results tested positive for drugs.

Seventeen states, including Georgia, have adopted zero tolerance or “per se” statutes that make it a crime to operate a vehicle while having alcohol or a drug in the body. Law enforcement officials and researchers believe that this type of statute is the most effective in dealing with drugged drivers. Georgia’s law makes it illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle “under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.”


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Air Bag Recalls Continue to Expand

As we mentioned in a post back in September, 2014 has been a record year for auto recalls. And the year isn’t over yet. Approximately 14.3 million automobiles from ten different manufacturers have now been recalled for faulty air bags manufactured by Takata.

The air bags, which were installed in vehicles from 2000-2011, may explode when they inflate. The force of the explosion may shatter the air bag container, sending metal and plastic shrapnel into the driver and passenger. The problem has been linked to propellant chemicals in the air bag, and may be aggravated in high-humidity climates. As a result, there have been more widespread recalls in high-humidity areas, including Georgia. So far there have been five fatalities and over 100 injures attributed to the defective air bags. The most recent death, which sparked a new wave of recalls, was of a pregnant woman in Malaysia.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging owners of the affected vehicles, which include cars by Honda, Toyota, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, to act on the recalls. Car owners that have been contacted by their cars’ manufacturers should make repair arrangements with local dealerships. Consumers who have not been contacted and are concerned that their vehicles may be affected can check by their vehicle identification number (VIN) here.


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National Teen Driver Safety Week 2014: Part 2

National Teen Driver Safety Week is going on now! In part one of this post, we talked about the disturbingly high rate of teenager traffic fatalities and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "5 to drive" rules to keep teen drivers safe. In today's post we will examine graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws.

GDL laws have proved effective in reducing crash rates for young teenage drivers, particularly 16- and 17-year-olds. These laws put more restrictions on younger teenage drivers that gradually lift as they age and gain more driving experience. GDL programs permit new drivers to gain experience by limiting their exposure to risky situations, such as driving at night or with multiple passengers, before getting full driving privileges.

In general, GDL laws do not apply to teenagers who begin driving at age 18 or older. Today a significant number of teens are waiting to get their licenses, so they are not subject to the restrictions of the GDL laws. Two new studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggest that not only do GDL laws help reduce accidents for drivers under 18, but that they could be beneficial for new drivers 18 and older. Inexperience is a major cause of accidents, even more so than age, and while 18-year-old beginner drivers may be more mature, they are still inexperienced.

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National Teen Driver Safety Week 2014: Part 1 of 2

Despite what teenagers may believe, they are not the best drivers. Tragically, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. In many cases, the teenagers who died were behind the wheel.

Since it was established by Congress in 2007, National Teen Driver Safety Week has been observed in the third week of October. This year it runs from October 19 to 26. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which sponsors the program, is emphasizing the importance of parents in taking a proactive role to keep their teens safe.

During last year's campaign, the NHTSA introduced the "5 to drive" program--five key rules for teens to be safe drivers. The rules address the major causes of accidents for young drivers.

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October is National Crime Prevention Month

While we specialize in helping people pick up the pieces after misfortune strikes, we never like to see a crisis occur. While some accidents are unavoidable (especially for the victims), some problems can be avoided through careful planning and prevention.

While we celebrate National Crime Prevention Month at our office, we'd like to give you three pointers on how to further prevent crime in your life.

1. Make sure your home is secure.

In the classic story of the Three Little Pigs and the mischievous Big Bad Wolf, there is an obvious threat: the gusts from wolf will blow the pigs' houses down! We all know the story. Two of the pigs ignore the importance of home protection by building their homes of straw and sticks. Only the third adequately prepares by building his home of bricks.

In our day and age, threats come in many shapes and sizes, and for this reason, may not be as obvious as a Big Bad Wolf! From physical threats of burglary, arson, or vandalism to digital threats of internet hacking and identity theft, the threats can seem ominous.

Our advice is to think carefully of the threats you have not adequately prepared for. Is your computer's firewall made of straw, brick, or better yet, ironclad? What does your house look like to a Big Bad Burglar from the outside? Will he be able to blow your house down (and grab some of your prized heirloom jewelry while he's at it!).

Sit down with a friend, your family, or a security specialist and brainstorm what you can do to protect your home from harm!

2. Be a better driver!

Surveys have shown that most people view themselves as above average drivers. After a day of driving in Atlanta traffic, I think we all know those surveys are less than accurate (I'll admit, I question my driving abilities during rush hour!).

While we may not think of pushing through a light turning red or cutting another person off as crimes (especially when we're the offending driver), they are. We may not get caught or penalized, but these are crimes for an obvious and good reason: they endanger our lives!

At our office, we work for a large number of clients injured in motor vehicle accidents. Many of these accidents could be avoided by people driving a little safer, a little friendlier.

So, be a better driver!

3. Be aware of your surroundings.

Last, but not least, be aware of your surroundings. As mentioned before, crime can come in many forms, from the more immediate imagined issues like robbery on the street to credit card fraud. When you're online, think twice about submitting your financial information on certain websites. When you're out late in an unfamiliar area (or familiar for that matter), travel in groups in well-lit areas. Hide your valuables from sight when you leave your car. Or better yet, don't leave them in your car at all!

In the hustle and bustle of life, stop and think. What are the potential risks around you? Don't focus on them until you lock yourself away. Just take the proper precautions and you can feel the safety of knowing that you're prepared!

How do you and your family protect yourselves from crimes? How are you going to be more responsible in your own personal life? And, hey, did you cut anyone off in rush hour today?

Post in the comments and let us know how you prevent crime!

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