Should you have the unfortunate experience of being involved in a car accident, you will have little idea what may come next. Along with trying to assess how seriously injured you may be, you’ll also be very worried about damage to your vehicle and the health of others who may have been involved in the accident. If you happen to live in California, you will have a one in three chance of being involved in an auto accident at some point during your life. If this happens to you, here are the most important steps you should take immediately following your accident to protect not only your health, but also your legal standing.
Never Leave the Scene without Permission
Once an auto accident takes place, it is always best for you to remain at the scene until police and other first responders arrive. Since you will need to speak with officers and others about what transpired, never panic and flee the scene of an auto accident. If you do, you will probably be tracked down by police and charged with hit-and-run, which is a serious felony charge. If there are any questions about this or other aspects of your accident, always consult with a car accident personal injury lawyer from West Coast Trial Lawyers.
Always Dial 9-1-1
Unless you are in a very minor fender-bender, always dial 9-1-1 to summon police and other rescue workers to your accident scene as quickly as possible. By doing so, you can get the accident scene secured and made safe for you and others. In addition, police who arrive at the accident scene can begin to conduct an investigation and eventually compile an accident report. This can be an important aspect of any future personal injury lawsuit you may file with a Los Angeles accident attorney, since it will contain eyewitness statements as well as the opinion by officers of which driver was at fault for the accident. Once this report is finished, always obtain a copy to provide your auto injury attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers.
Assess Your Injuries
If you can stay calm and do so, always try to get an idea of how seriously injured you may be from the accident. Whether you hit your head during the crash or think you may have broken bones, always try to relay this information once paramedics arrive and begin giving you medical treatment. Even if you do not think you have serious injuries, never let this deter you from letting rescue personnel examine you and transport you to a hospital for additional tests and treatment. If you make the mistake of refusing medical treatment at the scene, an insurance company will use this against you to claim you suffered only minor injuries in the accident.
Think Before You Speak
While the accident scene itself may be chaotic, that does not mean you should not still try to use common sense and good judgment when speaking to others about what happened. If you instead let your emotions guide your thinking in this situation, you will undoubtedly say and do things that will have a negative impact on your future personal injury case. As an example, if you say anything to police, the other driver, or others at the scene that implies you may have played a part in causing the accident, your words will wind up in a police report and will be used against you. Rather than let a simple remark derail your chances of gaining financial compensation for your injuries and other damages, say only what is necessary to others until you have spoken about your accident with a car accident personal injury lawyer from West Coast Trial Lawyers.
Exchange Vital Information
Since there will be many details that will need to be addressed following an auto accident, always try to exchange vital information with the other driver. This should include each person’s contact information, insurance information, make and model of vehicles, and anything else that may be relevant. Along with needing this information for your insurance company, your Los Angeles accident attorney will also need the information in case they need to contact the other driver at a later date. When interacting with the other driver at the accident scene, always try to be respectful and cooperative. However, remember to stick only to the task of exchanging information, rather than get into a discussion of who may have been at-fault.
Speak to Witnesses
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, it is likely many other people witnessed what happened. Therefore, make every attempt possible to speak to any eyewitnesses to your auto accident. If you can, use your cellphone to record these conversations. By doing so, key details of the accident will not be forgotten, and witnesses will also have a much harder time changing their stories later on or claiming they did not say something to you during a conversation. Also, just as you did with the other driver, make sure you get witness contact information and provide this to your auto injury attorney. In most of these cases, your attorney will want to follow-up with eyewitnesses to clarify important details about the accident.
Since even the slightest detail of an auto accident may be the deciding factor as to whether or not you gain the financial compensation you need and deserve, always document each and every aspect of your accident. To begin with, try to take photos of the accident scene, which should always include vehicle damage, property damage, nearby traffic lights and road signs, and anything else that may be important. Also, always make sure any injuries you sustained are properly documented in your medical records. This will be crucial, since the other driver’s insurance company will do anything it can to disparage you in these cases. Finally, always have specific documentation regarding your medical bills and lost wages, since you will want to receive enough compensation to cover these costs.
Lay Low on Social Media Accounts
If you are like most people, you have multiple social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. While it is always fun to get online and post comments and photos of your life most of the time, that will not be the case following your auto accident. In fact, you should likely stay off social media altogether until your case concludes. When meeting with a car accident personal injury lawyer, they will likely advise you to stay off social media. Since it is very easy to post comments or photos that could be detrimental to your personal injury case, always take your attorney’s advice and do as they recommend. Otherwise, you could cost yourself thousands of dollars in vital financial compensation.
Though it will be natural for you to be upset following your auto accident, taking the time to calm down and think things through can be of tremendous benefit to you as your case plays out. Should you require the services of an experienced auto injury attorney, contact West Coast Trial Lawyers for additional information. Once you do, you will meet with a skilled Los Angeles accident attorney and can discuss your case in greater detail.