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What To Do After You Think You Caused a Car Crash

woman in blue jacket and jeans kneeled down on her phone after a car accident

While some of us utilize our vehicles to go on leisurely rides, whether on a short day trip or when making a cross-country move, the rest simply rely on our cars to get to places we need to be in an expeditious way. With over 500,000 residents, Albuquerque is New Mexico’s most populous city. Our roadways are therefore super crowded with residents and droves of tourists navigating our popular city every year.

The sheer amount of cars on our roadways adds to the potential for any motorist to unexpectedly become involved in an auto accident. Data published by the New Mexico Department of Transportation showed that in the year 2020, 13,421 auto accidents occurred in our city alone.

Would you know what to do after you think you caused a car crash? Let’s go over what steps you should take post-wreck should you have the misfortune of becoming entangled in a vehicle collision in New Mexico.

Steps To Take Post-Crash

After any collision, there will likely be a burst of adrenaline flowing through your body. It can cloud what you’re feeling and thinking, leading you to second guess whether you were actually involved in a crash or if it was a figment of your imagination. That adrenaline can also make you question whether you got hurt in the crash.

If you wait various minutes or even hours it can take for the burst of adrenaline to wear off, it could be too late if you determine there was indeed a crash or you’re feeling unwell. This is why you should always do the following after a crash:

Remain at the Crash Scene

One important detail is that you should never leave an accident scene after becoming involved in a collision. New Mexico statute 66-7-202 outlines how leaving the scene of a crash, except temporarily to seek emergency assistance, is a criminal offense punishable by six years imprisonment if someone is seriously hurt or killed in the incident. That’s why you shouldn’t risk it—even if you’re unsure that you caused a crash, you should stop to ensure you didn’t. The consequences are too serious if you don’t.

Check on Yourself and Others After an Accident

Pause and take a deep breath if you suspect you just had a crash. Assess whether anything feels off in your body. Check on your passengers as well. If you or other vehicle occupants feel off, call 911 and request paramedics to come to the scene immediately to perform health checks.

If you feel up to it, check on the pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or another driver and their passengers with whom your vehicle may have collided. Your responsibility to do so is written into New Mexico’s hit-and-run law requiring you to do this unless you’re seriously injured. Ask them if you need to summon paramedics to the crash scene to provide medical assistance.

Get to Safety and Summon the Police To Make a Report

Remaining in your car in the middle of an Albuquerque intersection during active traffic on a busy highway is never advisable. You should prioritize getting out of harm’s way by stepping foot onto a nearby sidewalk, parking lot, or shoulder to minimize the chances of your vehicle being struck again and further injuries occurring.

Once at a safe distance from the collision, you’ll want to call law enforcement to have them come to the scene to make a report. The responding officer will only take down details about what they noticed and your, the other driver’s, and any witness accounts. You can secure this police report a few days later from the City of Albuquerque or another jurisdiction that prepared it.

Make Good Use of Your Time While Waiting for the Police To Arrive

Depending on how well-staffed the responding law enforcement agency is and how many calls they’re responding to, it can take anywhere from a few short minutes to much longer for officers to respond to your accident scene.

Take that time as you wait for their arrival to snap a few photographs of the crash scene, road and weather conditions, traffic flow, signals and signs, weather, and anything else you deem relevant to explain why the crash happened. Also, take pictures of your vehicle, the other driver’s car, and any injuries you (and the other parties) may have suffered in the collision. Also, take note if either vehicle involved had dashcams or if there are traffic or surveillance cameras in the area that captured footage that may need to be preserved.

Last, also ask around to determine if any bystanders witnessed the crash. If you identify anyone, then you should take down their contact information. Asking them if they happened to capture what occurred on their phone is important too. It can help shed light on what occurred.

Avoid Making Statements Regarding Fault

You may feel like you’re in a bit of a fog after a crash as you try to process whether you’re hurt and how the accident occurred. Do your best not to engage in speculative conversations about what might have happened with others.

Avoid communication regarding specific injuries you may have suffered or discussions that could shed light on liability for the crash. This logic also applies to when you’re reporting the incident to law enforcement when they arrive at the scene and even any insurance adjusters you may speak with—whether they’re yours or the other driver’s. Focus on reporting the facts and not giving details about your potential or known injuries.

Have a Doctor Check You Out

Even if you didn’t request for an ambulance to come to your crash scene and you feel fine, you should still take time to see a physician for a check-up after any auto accident (or another type of personal injury incident). You may have suffered injuries resulting in internal bleeding that will only worsen in time. A doctor will ask questions to rule out potentially deadly conditions such as a brain bleed or perforated liver that may cause irreversible harm to your health.

Preserve any records or bills for any health care providers you see, as these will come in handy if you move forward in filing a case.

Consult With a Lawyer as Soon as Possible After Your Crash

Managing insurance company phone calls in the aftermath of an accident can be challenging. Doing so if you’ve suffered injuries yourself and are focused on your recovery can be even more so. If you contributed to causing an car accident but believe that the other motorist involved also did, the New Mexico pure comparative negligence rule may apply. This legal concept restricts how much an at-fault motorist can recover if they file a car accident claim by their percentage of responsibility for causing the crash.

As mentioned earlier, you don’t want to make any admissions about fault for the crash to the other driver or insurance company, as doing so can lead to denials of liability for it or significant reductions in what you can recover. Allowing your car accident lawyer to communicate on your behalf minimizes the chances of something wrong being stated that can adversely affect your case.

How To Expect Your Car Accident Case To Unfold

Understandably, you may feel uneasy or lost after a car crash. The steps you take in its aftermath can make or break your car accident claim.

An Albuquerque auto accident lawyer from Buckingham & Vega Law Firm can aid you in compiling the evidence necessary to put forward a solid claim to minimize your liability and help you recover much-needed compensation for your injuries. Our personal injury attorneys can also support you as you navigate the legal process, both inside and outside the courtroom.

Reach out to us to schedule a free case evaluation so we can tell you if you have a valid claim per New Mexico law. That initial consultation is free.

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