No one wants to go through the hassle of being in an auto accident, but it happens. Unfortunately, some car accident victims make the mistake of not taking key precautions after an accident. If you were injured in a car accident, follow these ten steps to safeguard your health and personal injury case.
1. Call the Police
In the state of California, you are required to contact the police if your circumstances involve hit-and-run, serious injuries, death, or an injured animal. The police will create an official accident report that your lawyer can use later if needed. The police report will include critical information about the accident, such as the witnesses’ date, time, location, and contact information.
When talking to the police, answer only factual questions about what happened. Examples would be who was involved and what led to the accident. Do not speculate about who was at fault or offer any opinions. Let the police officer do their job and determine what happened.
2. Get Information From Everyone
Get the contact and insurance information of everyone involved in the accident. In addition, you will vehicle information, like the types of cars and their license plate numbers. This information will be logged in the police report, but it’s best to keep your own notes, as well.
You will also want to get the names and contact information of any witnesses. Their testimony may be important later on if there are any disputes about what happened. Your lawyer can use this information to help build your case.
3. Take Pictures of Everything
Take pictures and videos of the accident scene and any visible injuries. You can use these images to document the aftermath of the car accident in your insurance claim. This type of evidence has a short lifespan and can disappear. Therefore, take pictures as soon as possible before the debris has been cleaned up and before your injuries have healed.
If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the accident, get them as soon as possible afterward. Get documentation from your doctor detailing what injuries you sustained in the accident.
4. Seek Immediate Medical Help
If you get injured in an accident, get medical treatment as soon as possible. That will ensure that your injuries get treated and documented. It will also create records of injuries that your lawyer can use to support your claim.
If you don’t get medical help immediately, it may be harder to prove that the accident caused the injuries. Some injuries, such as whiplash or concussions, may not be immediately clear. So it is always better to err on the side of caution and get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
5. Keep Records of All Expenses Related to the Accident
Keep track of all expenses related to the auto accident. If you have a family, and the accident caused you to struggle to care for your children and/or spouse, you can also include childcare costs. You may also want to keep a notebook documenting how the accident has affected your life. Your lawyer can use this to show the emotional damages you suffered from the accident. This documentation will be necessary later when you seek compensation for your injuries. Examples of expenses are:
- Medical Bills
- Property Damage
- Taxi, Uber, or Rental Expenses
- Car repairs or tow trucks
- Lost Wages
6. Contact an Auto Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Contacting an auto accident lawyer before talking to any insurance companies is essential. Car insurance companies often try to get you to settle for less than you deserve. An experienced auto accident lawyer will fight for you in your best interests.
Your auto accident lawyer knows every trick the insurance agency will try to use. Your lawyer will make sure you don’t say anything that could hurt your case. They will also handle all the paperwork and negotiations involved in filing a claim.
7. Notify Your Insurance Company About the Accident
Once you have sought medical attention and contacted an auto accident lawyer, you must notify your insurance company about the accident. Although the accident may not be your fault, your car insurance company must be contacted and informed about the accident.
Be sure to give them all the necessary information, such as the police report and any documentation of your injuries. However, do not provide too many details. Everything you share is logged and could potentially hurt your case. An attorney will be able to guide you and clarify what information must be shared and what information does not have to be communicated.
8. Be Cautious of Insurance Company Settlement Offers
The other party’s insurance company may try to lowball you with a settlement offer that is less than what you deserve. Do not accept any offers until you consult an auto accident lawyer. The first settlement offer is almost always too low. It may appear initially enticing, but insurance adjusters do not take future expenses into account. Once you accept their offer, you cannot take it back, and you could lose out on maximum compensation.
9. Do Not Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
If the other party’s insurance or lawyers contact you, do not make any statements about the accident or your injuries. Anything you say could be used against you later on and may hurt your chances of receiving a fair settlement.
Do Not Give a Recorded Statement
The insurance company will likely try to get you to give a recorded statement about the accident. Do not do this without first talking to an auto accident lawyer. The insurance company will use anything you say against you to try to minimize their liability.
Do Not Sign Any Documents
The insurance company will likely try to get you to sign a release of liability form. Do not do this without first talking to an auto accident lawyer. Once you sign this form, you will likely waive your right to seek further compensation from the insurance company.
10. Follow Your Doctor’s Medical Treatment Plan
Following your doctor’s orders is vital after you get injured in an auto accident. Not following your doctor’s orders can be used against you in court to show that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. Therefore, do not miss appointments and ensure you are not aggravating your injuries.
Get the Compensation You Deserve
After you have been injured in an auto accident, it is important to follow the steps above to protect your rights. An experienced auto accident lawyer can help you through every step of the process and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, contact the auto accident lawyers at West Accident Law Group. today. Our experienced legal team will fight for you. If you have questions or need help, contact West Accident Law Group for a free consultation.