April 02, 2014
Important Steps to Take after an Auto Accident
If you’ve ever been in an auto accident, you know how disorienting the first few minutes can be after it takes place. From making sure that you and your passengers are unharmed to pulling over to the side of the road and talking to the other drivers, it is important to have a plan in place that will help you get the information you need in order to make sure your legal obligations are fulfilled and your auto accident attorney has every possible detail. Taking these steps will help you get through the situation and help get your accident resolved as soon as possible.
1. Stay at the Scene
The first thing to remember is to stay at the scene of the accident, especially if you or one of the others involved in the wreck need medical assistance. Pull off to the side of the road, safely away from traffic, and dial 911 to report the accident and summon the medical attention you need. If you flee the scene of the accident, you may be guilty of a hit and run. Cooperate with police to file the accident report before you leave and be sure to identify any witnesses that may be able to provide more information about the events that happened before, during, and after the accident.
2. Collect Information from All Involved
Moving forward in the process, you will need to provide police and insurance companies with all pertinent information to help you settle any claims. In addition to talking to the driver of other cars involved, take down contact information, insurance policy details, and the make, model, license plate number, and VIN for each car. Keep a disposable camera in your car or have your cellphone handy to take pictures of the damage to each car and the scene. This way, you have done your due diligence to accurately and properly document the accident under the law, and you also have everything you need to give to your insurance agent and auto accident attorney afterwards.
3. Be Careful What You Say
As the saying goes, what you say can be used against you in a court of law. In this case, comments you make at the scene to others involved in the accident could come back to haunt you. Even innocuous phrases such as “I’m sorry” can be used by the insurance company of the other driver to make it look like you are admitting fault. This could lead to your insurance claims being denied and having your rates skyrocket while you struggle to get money together to pay for repairs and potential hospital bills. Be courteous and provide your information to the other driver or drivers, but when discussing the accident, stick to the facts without any excess information or opinion.
4. Seek Medical Attention If Needed
If you have any injuries as a result of the accident, it is extremely important to see a doctor as soon as possible. In addition to getting the treatment you need for an injury, you want to have information on record about the injuries sustained in the accident. This way, you can have documentation to give to your insurance company and prove the severity of your injuries if the other driver’s insurance company tries to dispute your claim.
5. Call Your Insurance Company
If possible, it is best to contact your insurance company as soon as you complete the accident report with the police. Give your insurance agent all the information that is requested, including the details that you’ve gathered from the other motorists. Your insurance agent will advise you on the next steps you should take, including seeking repairs from an approved auto body shop and filing the appropriate accident forms with the DMV.
6. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Los Angeles
If you have been in an accident and want to explore your legal options, get in touch with a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles before too much time passes by. An auto accident attorney will represent your interests and deal directly with the insurance companies so that the pressure is off of you moving forward. This gives you the assistance you need since a professional will be handling your case and keep you from feeling pressured into settling a claim with an insurance company that does not fairly compensate you for the damage and injuries you’ve suffered.
Auto accident attorneys will also evaluate your case for free and help you determine the strength of your claim. In addition, you will be able to get advice on the immediate steps that you should take so that you are in the best position possible when dealing with the insurance companies. Call your attorney immediately after the accident when the information is still fresh in your mind so you have the best representation for your case.
- “2011 Annual Report of Fatal and Injury Motor Vehicle Traffic Collisions,” The California Highway Patrol, n.p., n.d., Web, 13 May 2014.