Knowing even a few steps of what to do (and not do) after a car accident can help in these stressful situations. Your actions can help you get the compensation you are entitled to, no matter the collision’s severity.
The moments immediately following an accident are chaotic and confusing. No one expects to be in a car crash, and despite the best intentions, being fully prepared is almost impossible.
Here are some good practices to keep in mind in any vehicle collision.
1. Take a Deep Breath and Survey the Scene
Safety is the top priority at the time of the accident. Put on your hazard lights, and if you can, move all vehicles to the side of the road to avoid a larger collision. Help any passengers remove themselves from the cars unless they are too badly injured.
2. Call 911
Even if you or any others involved feel okay, it’s essential to call 911. Emergency medical teams can provide the help needed, and a police officer must document the accident. A police report must be filed immediately as evidence to proceed with a legal claim later. Not only that, it is the law. Failure to report an accident can result in a suspension of your license. If you leave the scene of an accident and don’t exchange information and report the accident, you risk a hit-and-run charge.
3. Document the Accident
Take pictures of the scene and your car’s damage with your cell phone before roadside assistance clears the scene of the accident.
Get contact information from any witnesses present. Be sure to ask what they saw in the lead-up to and after the crash.
Keep interactions with the other party brief and objective so you don’t worsen an already tense situation. You must exchange the following with them:
- Full name.
- Phone number.
- Driver’s license number and license plate number.
- Insurance card with your car insurance policy number.
Do not admit fault to anyone, even if you feel you are to blame. California is a “fault” state, so the at-fault driver could end up paying damages to the other party. Liability for an accident can split legally, so don’t let yourself get taken advantage of.Police will speak with you, the other party, and witnesses and create an accident report from the recorded statements.
4. Seek Medical Attention
You may feel stunned and run on adrenaline out of shock, which may mask any injuries. Further complicating matters, serious injuries don’t always appear immediately and may worsen without treatment. Watch out for:
- Soft tissue damage.
- Head trauma, and signs of concussions.
- Spinal cord injuries and back pain.
- Fractures, sprains, and possible broken bones.
See a doctor as soon as possible to document any accident-related physical issues. Doing so ensures a quicker recovery and means your treatment is on record for insurance claims.
5. Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If the accident was not (entirely) your fault, you could be entitled to a financial settlement. Compensation may cover:
- Medical bills, both current and future.
- Repairs for vehicle damage.
- Rental cars, if yours is a write-off.
- Property damage.
- Pain and suffering.
A personal injury lawyer is of valuable help here:
- They are familiar with deadlines for filing reports and claims.
- They can accurately estimate your damages.
- They can work with your doctor to inform you about your medical treatments or connect you with health professionals if needed.
- If required, they have expert connections for trial use (medical witnesses, accident recreation specialists, etc.).
- They can handle communications with all involved parties, including law enforcement and insurance agents.
- They begin the settlement negotiation process.
- Car accident attorneys improve your chances of receiving compensation.
6. File an Accident Claim With Your Auto Insurance Company
Trusting that your insurance adjuster has your back would be nice, but these companies want to avoid paying out money, even if you have insurance coverage. They will avoid accountability as much as possible and may try to get you to admit fault.
Have a lawyer before you call, or the other driver’s insurance company contacts you. An auto accident attorney knows what insurance information needs to be passed along and can help handle all communication on your behalf.
Why Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
There are many things to keep on top of after an accident, and you don’t deserve to deal with these burdens alone. If you or a loved one were in a motor vehicle crash, you are best served to focus on your recovery.
The earlier you can secure legal representation, the smoother the claims process. Reaching out to an experienced car accident attorney should be among the first things you do if you are in a collision, regardless of the severity or who is at fault.
The experienced team at Mova Law Group in San Diego, CA knows what to do after an auto accident. We can help take some of the weight off your shoulders in this stressful time. You don’t need to worry about the cost of reaching out either – we offer a free consultation and take your case on a contingency plan basis. You don’t have to provide payment until we negotiate the settlement you deserve.
In the aftermath of a car accident, contact the law firm of Mova Law Group for risk-free, helpful representation when you need it the most.