And Then It Happens To You… A Car Accident.

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: June 4, 2015

An accident victim who was injured in a car accident in Tucson, Arizona describes her experience in this guest post.

You hear about them all the time. You have even witnessed some right in front of you. In fact, you may have even nearly been in one… Deep breath… That was close. You move on until you get hit.

Your brain gets jumbled….

You’re shocked.

One second you were thinking about what to make for dinner, looking over at a left hand turning driver, slowing down and then accelerating again, changing th-


You’re stunned.

Your mind goes blank for a millisecond as if it’s trying to reach for something understandable, tangible. Nothing… and then…

Oh yes… “I was just in a car accident”

This was my experience at least.

With my hands shaking, I slowly turned off the car and sat still, feeling my heart rate, racing uncontrollably  (NOTE: It’s safer to get out of the car and onto the curb or somewhere safe, out of traffic).

When I finally got out of my car, I looked behind me to see a mess of smoke, broken glass and two other smashed cars besides mine. I stood stunned until I heard the driver that hit me… “I think I’m gonna call 911… right?” I nodded slowly but he didn’t reach for his phone.

Retrospectively, I wondered why he needed permission or reassurance to call the police … perhaps when including the authorities the situation becomes larger than one thought, more “uncontrollable.”

As we moved to the curb, we saw that traffic had slowed to one lane and the police had arrived. Thankfully no one was injured enough to need an ambulance. However, when I looked down my foot was covered in blood and someone was handing me their insurance card and driver’s license.

When you’re in an auto accident, everything seems overwhelming at first. People come up to you asking if you are okay, the people involved in the accident are hovering around exchanging information (luckily we can just snap pictures of information – thank you smart phone).

My heart rate had finally slowed down to a still audible thumping but I could breathe. I took a deep breath and decided that all my limbs were intact and yes my car was smashed in but we were all okay.

Next order of business was the police officer that had summoned us together again “Looks like we are going to have to tow the two cars in back.”

The person that hit my car let out a sigh of defeat. The woman that hit him still seemed stunned and shuffled her feet in response.

The police officer spoke again “now since no one is visibly hurt and… you all exchanged information correct?”

We nodded.

The officer spoke once more, “do you wish for me to write up a police report?”

Despite having worked for a personal injury firm and seeing hundreds of cases come through, I couldn’t respond with confidence… I thought “do we need one? Seems like we are all okay…” my thoughts trailed off as I looked at the scene of sandwiched cars in front of me.

“Yes, we do” I responded. This time with more command and confidence. “I would like one please.”

The officer smiled and walked away to start the paperwork. The others drifted off their respective corners to make phone calls and re-center from the slight trauma.

So much happened the night of the accident but there were some major points that I later reflected on:

  1. You are operating a five or more TON vehicle. Be serious about driving it. Pay attention the road and the people around you. Be present and STAY OFF YOUR PHONE.
  2. As noted above, when the accident happens, get out of the car and out of traffic as soon as possible. The accident has caused an immediate obstruction in the road and this may be cause for other accidents to occur.
  3. Collect as much information from all of the drivers involved in the accident including their driver’s license, insurance card, and license plate number. If there were witnesses, get their information (name, number, email).
  4. Take pictures of the accident BEFORE the cars are moved.
  5. Take pictures of any of your injuries and the injuries of the other drivers involved.
  6. If you have a smart phone, take pictures of #4’s information collected (in the event that your written record is lost).
  7. Express empathy to the people involved in the accident – it’s no use creating negative energy in an already tense situation. Remember, do not apologize or admit fault but asking if everyone is okay and being kind is definitely a good thing in these situations.
  8. CALL AN ATTORNEY FIRST! I’m serious. Do not call your insurance first, call a personal injury attorney and speak with them on your case FIRST. They can even call and file a claim with your insurance. People sometimes think calling an attorney can be extreme but the reality is you simply don’t know the extent of the damage to your car and more importantly, your body. Personal injury attorneys deal with car accidents every day and they can provide you with instructions on what to do next.
  9. If you decide to secure a personal injury firm, DO NOT SPEAK TO ANY INSURANCE COMPANY that calls you. The only insurance company that you should be conversing with is your own and you should only be conversing with them on the topic of property damage aka your car.
  10. Listen to your body. If something hurts that never hurt before the accident, make sure to tell your health care provider. Healing should be a priority and when you have a good personal injury law firm helping you through the process, they make sure that getting better is your only job.
Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
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