When you find yourself involved in an automobile accident, you will have a number of variables to deal with at the accident scene and for the days and weeks that follow. Because of this, you will likely find yourself feeling confused and worried about what to do next when it comes to dealing with lawyers, insurance companies, police, and others. In many of these situations, accident victims make a variety of mistakes that ultimately cost them the chance to gain the financial compensation they need to pay medical bills, replace lost wages from being unable to work, replace valuable personal property damaged or destroyed in the accident, and help them deal with the pain and suffering following the accident. Rather than find yourself having no idea how to handle these complex situations, it is always best to be as prepared as possible ahead of time. To know what to do or not do should you be involved in an auto accident, here are some key reminders to always remember.
Remaining at the Accident Scene
If you are part of an auto accident, always use good judgment and remain at the scene until you have been cleared to leave. In most cases, this will be after you have spoken to police and they have concluded their on-scene investigation of the accident. In some cases, auto accident victims panic in these stressful moments and leave before speaking to police, or may even fail to stop once the accident takes place. If you do either of these, you will need to hire the best car accident lawyer you can find, since it is likely police will charge you with leaving an accident scene or perhaps hit and run, both of which are very serious.
Call 9-1-1 Immediately
When an auto accident occurs, people will be injured and there will be the risk of fires or other related issues. Because of the danger surrounding an accident scene, always make sure you call 9-1-1 immediately to summon police and other first responders to the scene. Along with treating injuries and securing the area, police will investigate the accident, make a preliminary assessment as to who was at fault, and file an accident report. Once this is done, your Los Angeles accident attorney can use this report to plan legal strategy. For example, should police determine you were not at fault for the accident, your attorney can use this as a negotiating tool to make the other driver’s attorney and insurance company work toward a fair out-of-court settlement.
Have Your Injuries Treated
Whether or not you think you are seriously injured, always allow rescue personnel at the accident scene to examine you and treat your injuries. By doing so, you not only protect your health and well-being, but also make it less likely the other driver’s attorney and insurance company will be able to successfully claim you were not injured in the accident. Along with this, it is also recommended you allow yourself to be transported from the accident scene to a hospital by ambulance. By doing so, you will immediately have your injuries assessed by doctors and have any injuries and treatments entered into your medical records. Should you decide against transport by ambulance, always visit your own doctor or an ER within no more than 48 hours after the accident, since such injuries as whiplash, concussions or brain trauma, and back injuries may take hours or days to begin showing symptoms.
Exchange Information with Drivers
Before everyone leaves the accident scene, always exchange information with other drivers involved in the accident. This should not only include names, addresses, and phone numbers, but also insurance information, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and makes and models of vehicles involved in the accident. By having this information, your attorney from West Coast Trial Lawyers will be able to contact the other driver and their insurance company should additional information be needed.
Talk to Witnesses
While you will need to speak with police and other drivers at the accident scene, also seek out and speak with anyone who witnessed the accident. By doing so, you can gain valuable details as to what may have led up to the accident, as well as the actions of the other driver that may have contributed to the accident. However, always remember that when speaking to witnesses, never just rely on trying to remember everything the witness tells you. Instead, write down their account or use your smartphone to make a video recording of the conversation. In doing so, you will make it virtually impossible for witnesses to change their story or claim they don’t remember important details of the accident. Once you have witness statements, immediately hand them over to your Los Angeles accident attorney. Not only will your attorney want to closely examine these statements, but also will likely want to interview the witness in person to gather additional details.
Be Careful with Your Words
When you are talking to police, rescue personnel, the other driver, witnesses, or anyone else about the accident, always be very careful regarding what you say about how the accident happened or anything you may or may not have done along the way. For example, if during the course of conversation with police or the other driver you say something as carefree as “I’m sorry,” you will have just made it more difficult for even the best car accident lawyer to help you win your case. By saying these few words in this situation, you sound as though you are admitting the accident was your fault. Should your words wind up in a police report, the other driver’s attorney and insurance company will seize upon them and attempt to use them against you.
Don’t Speak with Insurance Companies
When the other driver’s insurance company contacts you after the accident, it is usually best to say as little as possible and instead refer them to your attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers. Since your lawyer will be experienced and knowledgeable regarding the various tactics insurance companies use in these cases, there will be little chance a mistake will be made. However, should you decide to deal with an insurance company on your own, you could seriously jeopardize your case. In many situations, insurance companies will attempt to confuse you or offer you a quick settlement, both of which can be problematic.
At the accident scene, always take photos of damage to vehicles, visible injuries you may have, property damage, traffic signals or signs that may have been a factor in the crash, skid marks on the road, unusual conditions in the road such as potholes or other damage to pavement, and anything else you believe may be important. Since this will be the only opportunity you will have to take photos of the actual scene, make sure you take far more pictures than you will likely need.
Since any type of car accident case can become very complex, always turn to a Los Angeles accident attorney who can help you gain the compensation you deserve. To ensure you work with the best car accident lawyer, contact West Coast Trial Lawyers for additional information.