According to the Utah Department of Health statistics, there are approximately 62,000 motor vehicle crashes every year, or 1 every 8 minutes. These accidents caused more than 25,000 injuries and 260 deaths in 2018.
If you are involved in a car crash in Utah, no matter who is at fault or what types of vehicles were involved, here are the steps you must follow to remain safe.
1. Get Yourself Out of Danger
Although getting involved in a car crash is unsettling, it is critical to remain calm. The most important thing to do immediately after an accident is to get to safety.
If you can, move your vehicle off the road. Park it on the side, so it doesn’t obstruct traffic. Turn your hazards on so you’re visible to other drivers, and then check yourself for pain and injuries.
If you don’t feel any noticeable pain, injuries, or any other issue preventing you from moving, check for oncoming traffic before exiting the vehicle and moving to stand on the sidewalk. If there’s no sidewalk or safe place to stand off the shoulder, remain in the vehicle.
Afterward, check on your passengers, occupants of the other vehicles involved in the crash, and any other pedestrians or passersby. If you notice anyone with injuries, call 911.
If you cannot move your vehicle following the crash and do not have any apparent injuries, keep the car in park and turn your hazards on to alert passing drivers to your situation.
When there’s an opportunity to exit the vehicle safely, you can do so if there’s somewhere safe to stand on the side of the road. If you are injured or unable to exit the car by yourself, call 911 or ask someone else to make the call.
2. Notify Law Enforcement
According to the Utah Code (41-6a-401), anyone involved in a traffic accident resulting in property damage exceeding $2,500, injuries, or death must notify law enforcement as soon as possible. Failure to do so is a Class C misdemeanor.
However, even if the incident was minor, it is in your best interest to call the police and inform them of the accident. Doing so allows you to request a copy of the police report detailing the incident, which you need when contacting your insurance provider.
Do not attempt to leave the scene before notifying the police or fulfilling your legal requirements, even if you weren’t driving. Doing so is a crime (Utah Code 41-6a-401.3) known as a hit-and-run. If you are ever in doubt, ask the responding police officers whether you are free to leave.
If the police do not send any officers to the scene (which may happen if no one was injured), the involved parties must file an accident report themselves with the local DMV within 10 days (41-6a-402).
3. Gather Information and Contact Details
If you are not incapacitated, one of your legal requirements after an accident in Utah is to exchange contact information with other drivers.
Here are the contact details you need to gather:
- Names of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident
- Vehicle make, model, year, and license plate numbers of all involved vehicles
- Insurance information of all other drivers
- Location of the incident
- Names and badge numbers of responding officers
If any witnesses were on the scene, obtaining their information and testimonies can be beneficial for building your case.
Most people today own smartphones equipped with high-resolution cameras. If you can do so safely, take pictures of the accident from multiple angles, documenting the placement and damage sustained by all involved vehicles.
4. Contact Our Lawyers at Great West Injury Law
Being involved in a car crash is a traumatic event that results in high levels of stress, mental anguish, and anxiety.
Although it is normal to feel scared or emotional after a crash, it is critical not to admit fault or apologize to other involved parties. Never make statements implying guilt or personal responsibility.
Be courteous and cooperative, especially with law enforcement, but avoid oversharing. These statements can be recorded and used against you to deny or reduce a personal injury claim.
After fulfilling your obligations on the scene and calling your insurance provider to file an accident claim, contact the Utah car accident lawyers at Great West Injury Law.
After a Crash, You Need Great West Injury Law
Our skilled personal injury lawyers in Salt Lake City can evaluate your case to see if you have grounds for a claim. At Great West Injury Law, we understand the pain and distress a car accident can cause. We fight to represent your interests and get you the maximum payout. Contact us today for a free initial case review.