Even with the pandemic, lock-downs and lesser traffic, our roads are still dangerous.
Road accidents and COVID-19 pandemic have a common unfortunate characteristic of striking anyone, increasing anxiety and stress.
A car accident on a typical day is a traumatic event. When it occurs during this pandemic period, you may find yourself navigating and dealing with extra layers of uncertainty and stress.
Having to adhere to social distancing and the Centers for Disease Control covid guidelines can become hectic.
Here our guide on safely handling car accidents with pandemic concerns in mind.
Start with the fundamentals
Despite the pandemic, car accident essentials remain the same, and they include:
- Stay at the accident scene until the police arrive or resolve the situation. Fleeing the accident scene may result in legal ramifications like administrative penalties on your driving license or six months suspension/revocation of the license, if it’s hit and run or fines or a jail term.
- Call the police and ambulance if anyone is injured.
- Prevent any further accidents by moving the vehicle away from the road, if possible, put out flares and use hazard lights.
- It’s a legal obligation to collect accident-related information like license plates, driver’s license, phone number, and name.
- Document the accident scene details thoroughly including the road condition and other relevant factors, with detailed photos and video.
- Contact your legal representative and insurance provider.
- Get a copy of the police report; you may need it during a court case.
With the pandemic chaos using up a big chunk of public resources, you may ask yourself, is it necessary to call 911? Well, the answer depends on the situation. The situation includes;
- If someone is hurt, whether it’s minor or serious injuries.
- When the accident has caused considerable damage, however, if both cars are drivable, you need to call and report the occurrence and inform them you don’t need a police presence. Make sure a police report is filed on time.
- If the accident is causing danger to pedestrians and other motorists or blocking traffic, you need to contact 911 to safely move the cars. The police will close the road or redirect the traffic.
- When the other driver seems intoxicated or dangerous, call 911; signs of an intoxicated driver include lack of coordination or slurring their words. You don’t want an intoxicated driver back on the wheel, as it poses a danger to others. Evidence of intoxication may also help you later with the legal claims.
- In case you feel uncomfortable, or the other involved party’s behavior makes you feel unsafe, don’t leave your car. Call 911, stay safe and wait for help.
- Likewise, you don’t need to call the cops if there is minimal property damage, no one is hurt, and the accident is not creating a hazard or blocking traffic. If it’s a minor collision or a fender bender accident, you can exchange insurance contact and file a police report later.
In some states, it’s a legal requirement to call police once an accident occurs regardless of how minor.
Maintain Social Distancing
Under normal circumstances and during an accident, one driver would approach the other to exchange the required information. However, during this pandemic, it’s advisable to maintain social distancing as much as you can.
- Try and fulfill the legal obligation of exchanging documents without hand-to-hand contact. For example, if you have protective gloves, you can wear them while handling the other party documents and always wear your mask. If you have an N95, then that is even better as it will provide better protection. You can purchase these from Pandemic Pal if you don’t currently have one.
- Consistently keep a six-foot distance from other people; instead of exchanging information on pieces of paper, opt for mobile saving mechanisms.
- Verbally record any communication with witnesses, other drivers, and involved parties. Send and text all evidence documents, photos, and required information to the involved parties before leaving the scene. Remember to verify the mobile number of all involved by sending a text.
- Alternatively, request the other party to safely lay down their documents on a flat surface for you to take photos or use your paper and pen to write down the necessary information.
- If using photos to capture the documents information, verify the pictures are visible and clear before proceeding.
Getting medical attention, if necessary
Regardless of most hospitals postponing non-critical medical care and prioritizing coronavirus cases or preparing their facilities to accommodate the surging cases, don’t shy to seek medical attention after an accident, should you need.
Perhaps you may start by calling the nearest hospital and enquiring about the current protocols for routine and non-emergency care and the available options. If an in-person appointment is not viable, request a telemedicine video call or meeting.
Regardless of the treatment method you use, getting a post-accident medical check-up is vital for your health and for legitimizing accident injuries.
Additionally, you need a medical report to support your claim. But if you delay for a few weeks or months, the other party may dispute your injuries, affecting your compensation amount.
Prepare for delays
COVID-19 pandemic has changed and impacted our lives in many ways. Expect the accident’s process to be delayed-from dealing with insurance companies to medical treatment to court cases.
Typical car accident claiming processing timeline has become slower due to the lock-downs while personal injury cases (and many other cases) are experiencing court system delays.
Additionally, emergency medical procedures like surgery, physical therapy, and specialist clinics have become lower priorities due to an overwhelmed healthcare system.
Because of the pandemic, some insurance companies have leveraged the delays to pressure the accident claimants into accepting a lower price than can’t sufficiently cover the crash damages. An experienced car accident lawyer in NJ can help you to understand, and fight for your rights, if the given offer is undervalued and unfair. This will ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Furthermore, insurance companies are also experiencing an economic slowdown due to COVID-19. Thus, they have aggressively tried to lower settlement offers or delay the claim process.
An accident during normal days can leave you feeling frazzled, but during the pandemic, can cause increased stress and anxiety.
However, consulting your car accident attorney may protect you from the burden of unwanted worries. That way, you get enough time to recover while the lawyer works with the insurance company to get your deserved compensation.