What You Should Do After a Car Accident
Current statistics tell us that car accidents are becoming more common as our population explodes and the roadways become increasingly crowded. This is especially the case in major cities like Los Angeles, CA.
In fact, the average adult has a one in three chance of being involved in an auto incident during the driving years. This means every third accident that happens could happen to you!
This is just one of many reasons why it is so vitally important to know what to do when you are in a car accident. Not only will it give you loads of useful information your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can use later to defend your rights and get you the settlement you deserve in court, but it will protect you in the moments after the incident from doing or saying anything that could later be used against you in court.
Read this post to learn what steps to take after a car accident. Also be sure to share it with your loved ones and keep a copy in your vehicle.
Step One: Remain In Place Until It Is Safe
Right after you have been involved in a car accident, your first reaction may simply be to feel grateful you made it out alive!
This is a protective instinct that will help you sit quietly for a moment or two, check yourself and your surroundings and get your bearings again. It is very important not to move about or try to exit your vehicle until all signs indicate it is safe to do so.
Once you feel steady and the coast is clear, ease out of your car and do a perimeter check to be sure you can walk around without any danger. Then you can move on to next steps.
Step Two: Call the Police and Request an Officer to the Scene
You may wonder why you would want to get the police involved when it could result in a traffic citation and points on your license.
The reason you want the police involved is actually for your own protection. They will document everything and get statements from you and the other driver(s) and put it all into a document called an accident report.
This report is admissible in court and can be very useful to an experienced auto injury attorney if you need to seek legal restitution for your damages.
The reason you should call the police immediately is because it can take some time for an officer to arrive, especially if traffic is heavy. You can use the wait time to do the other things you need to do to protect yourself after a car accident.
Step Three: Start Documenting Everything You Remember and See
While step one is most important for your personal safety and immediate wellbeing, step two is the most important for your future wellbeing, especially if you need the help of a car accident personal injury lawyer to put the accident behind you.
You want to start your documentation by examining your own vehicle. If you have your smart phone with you, take photos and video footage. Narrate what you can remember while videoing the scene so it goes quicker.
Make detailed notes about any damage to your car and the other car(s).
Then move on to take a look at your greater surroundings. What is the weather like? Is the traffic light or heavy? What kind of visibility do you have? Are there street signs in place? What is the road itself like? Do you see debris, potholes, road hazards?
If you have something to write with, sketch out a map of the immediate vicinity and mark where the accident itself occurred and what the positions of each vehicle were to the best of your recollection.
These details may seem minor in the moment but could be very important later when you and your Los Angeles accident attorney begin discussing your reimbursement claim.
Step Four: Exchange Insurance Information
You will definitely want to get the other driver(s) information and insurance policy numbers. But proceed with caution when interacting with the other drivers.
Remember, a car accident is a form of trauma. Some people may respond with high emotion when they feel threatened or scared. Always use a calm voice and keep a pleasant expression on your face. Say as little as possible beyond what is required to do the insurance exchange.
Never say anything like "I'm sorry" or "Oh that looks painful" or anything that could later be taken as an admission of guilt.
Never talk to the other drivers' insurance claims agents, even though they will probably ask you to do so. You are not legally obligated to do this and it could be used against you later as proof of guilt.
Simply make the exchange, document the other drivers' vehicles and license plate numbers by taking photographs and then walk back to your car and wait for the police to arrive.
Step Five: Call Your Insurer to Start the Claims Process
The reason you want to document everything and exchange information first is because your insurer will ask you for all of this information when you make the call to start the claims process.
You will need to know the cross streets, the intersection, the other drivers' insurance information, et al, when you open a new auto accident claim.
Your claims statements are a form of testimony and your agent will prepare a document that includes all of the information you offer, so be sure you are detailed and factually correct. Be sure to ask for a copy of your claims statement that you can then provide to your car accident lawyer in Los Angeles later.
Remember, your claims agent is on your side and wants to make sure you are declared not at fault, since that can affect the payout.
Step Six: Keep Documenting As You Remember More
Finally, you may remember additional details later in the day or in the days to come. This can be particularly the case when it comes to personal injuries.
Sometimes the pain and discomfort of whiplash and back injuries, for example, don't show up right away. You may notice it later when you go to bed that night or the next morning when you feel stiff and sore getting up.
Keep documenting what you notice. Take photographs of any visible injuries such as bruises, scrapes or wounds and write down the date and time so you can document the healing progress.
Finally, be sure to keep every single receipt for any medical services you may need to tend to your neck, back or other injuries you sustained as part of the car accident.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in an auto accident, it is important to realize you aren't supposed to know exactly what to do. Most of us don't experience the trauma of auto accidents very often!
But with the help of an experienced car accident attorneys/lawyers at West Coast Trial Lawyers, you can get compensated and get on with your life.
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