Summer officially starts on June 22nd, but once Memorial Day weekend hits and the warmer weather is here to stay, people start taking their much-needed summer vacations. Over 80 percent of Americans are planning to travel this summer, with road trips being the most popular form of transportation. Whether you are traveling far away or staying relatively close to home, getting into a car accident while you are on vacation can put a damper on your plans, especially if the accident caused serious injuries. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of a car accident during the busy summer months. However, if you are injured in a car accident while you are on vacation, do not hesitate to contact an experienced car accident lawyer who will assist you with the claims process and secure the financial compensation you deserve.
What Steps Should I Take If I Am In a Car Accident?
No matter how much planning and preparing you do to get ready for your vacation, car accidents can happen when you least expect it. When you are involved in a car accident while on vacation, your trip that was supposed to be a fun and relaxing getaway suddenly becomes a high-stress situation. While you cannot turn back time, you can take steps that will make the situation as stress-free as possible, including the following:
- Remain calm. Take a moment to assess the situation and check on the rest of the passengers in the vehicle. Panicking will only make the situation worse.
- Call 911. Report the accident as soon as possible so that that dispatch can send a police officer to the scene of the accident. If there are injuries, notify dispatch so that he or she can send an ambulance as well. The officer who arrives at the scene will fill out a police report, which will include information about the accident. In some cases, it may include information about who is responsible for causing the accident.
- Exchange information. It is also important that you exchange information with the other driver, including driver’s license number, license plate number, contact information and insurance information. Do not apologize for the accident, even if you are trying to be nice: this could be interpreted as an admission of fault, and may be used against you during the claims process.
- Collect evidence. Document the scene of the accident by taking pictures of the damage to the vehicle, your injuries, debris on the road, the weather conditions and anything else that help determine the cause of the accident and who is at fault.
- Talk to witnesses. If there were witnesses who saw the accident happen, ask if they would be willing to provide a statement and ask for their contact information.
- Call the car rental company. If you were driving a rental car at the time of the accident, notify the rental company that you were involved in a car accident so that they can discuss your insurance options with you. They may also be able to assist you with next steps and provide you with a replacement rental vehicle for the remainder of your vacation. Make sure that you keep all rental receipts and transportation tickets. You will need to provide these documents if you file a claim or pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
- Notify your insurance company. You will need to notify your insurance company that you were involved in a car accident. Keep in mind that insurance companies are in the business of making money, so they will look for reasons to avoid paying a costly settlement.
- Contact an experienced car accident lawyer. You are strongly urged to contact a car accident lawyer any time you are involved in a car accident. However, when the accident occurs while you are on vacation, the situation may be more complicated if the accident occurred in a different state. Laws vary from state to state, and a skilled car accident lawyer will have a thorough understanding of the laws that apply to that state. He or she will conduct a thorough investigation and assist you with every step of the claims process.
How Do I Prove That the Other Driver was Negligent?
If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by another motorist, you may pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. In order to prove that the driver was negligent, in an injury claim, you must be able to prove the following:
- You were owed a duty of care. All motorists have a duty to obey the rules of the road and avoid unsafe driving behaviors that could cause an accident.
- The negligent party breached that duty of care. You must be able to prove that the accident would not have happened if the other driver had breached his or her duty of care. Examples of common breaches of care include distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving and aggressive driving.
- The breach of care resulted in the injury. You must also be able to prove that the negligent party’s actions directly caused your injuries and property damage.
- The injury resulted in financial damages. Finally, you must be able to prove that the financial losses are directly related to the car accident. This may include the costs associated with your injuries as well as the damage to your vehicle.
- You were less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. Georgia is a comparative negligence state, which means that you are only eligible to recover damages if you were less than 50 percent responsible for causing the accident. If you are found to be more than 50 percent liable, you will not be eligible for compensation. In addition, if you were found to be 20 percent liable, your settlement amount will be reduced by that percentage.
How Can I Avoid Getting into a Car Accident While on Vacation?
Even if you avoid unsafe driving behaviors whenever you are behind the wheel, you cannot control how other motorists drive, or the decisions that they make when they are driving. However, you can take the following proactive steps, which can help reduce the risk of a serious car accident:
- Avoid distractions. Distracted driving continues to be a major cause of serious car accidents. During the summer, there are more inexperienced teen drivers on the roads who are more likely to talk or text on their phones while they are driving. Other examples of common distractions include reaching for items in the back seat, adjusting the GPS or the radio, eating, or interacting with other passengers in the car. According to USA Today, sending or reading a text while driving increases the risk of a car accident by 23 times.
- Stay awake and alert. Drowsy driving is another common cause of car accidents. In fact, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, missing up to two hours of sleep can double the risk of a car accident. If you get less than four hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, you will be 11.5 times more likely to be involved in a car accident. If you start to feel drowsy, swap driving responsibilities with another licensed driver, or pull over to a safe spot and get some fresh air or take a short nap.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Before hitting the road for a summer vacation, make sure that your vehicle is inspected by a skilled mechanic who can check the brakes, the engine, tires, the steering and make sure that all of the necessary fluids are topped off.
- Be prepared with an emergency kit. When taking a road trip, it is highly recommended that you keep a well-stocked emergency kit in the vehicle at all times. If you are in an accident, or the vehicle breaks down, you will be able to stay safe, hydrated and fed until help arrives. An emergency kit should include the following items:
- Bottled water
- Car jack and lug wrench
- Emergency flares or reflective cones
- Extra phone charger
- First-aid kit
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Jumper cables and a portable battery charger
- Non-perishable food items, including granola bars, trail mix, peanut butter, dried fruit
- Small tool kit
- Tire sealant
Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Car Accident Victims Injured While on Vacation
If you were seriously injured in a car accident while you were on vacation, contact our Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law. We will determine who is responsible for causing the accident, and whether the other motorist was negligent in some way. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Our office is located in Springfield, Georgia where we serve clients from Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.