It can be confusing and frightening being involved in a car accident. It becomes even more overwhelming if you have suffered any injuries. Knowing what you should do following the crash in order to be successful in any kind of claim against the at-fault driver can help the process go smoother.
If you would like to discuss your case with a car accident attorney, call a law office today. In the meantime, the following is a brief overview of the steps you should take following an accident.
Make sure everyone is safe: It can be chaotic following a collision, but it is important to first make sure anyone involved is okay. If you have been seriously injured, stay exactly where you are until EMTs arrive. If you are able to move around, then move yourself and others to safety. As you are doing this, try to make a mental note (and write it down as soon as you can) or all parties involved and what their conditions are. Take as many photos as you can of the scene, including damage to vehicles, skid marks, and any factors that may have contributed to the crash.
Call the police: If you are physically able, call the police. If not, have someone else make the call. Not only is it legally required, it is also important for any future civil litigation. The police report will contain all pertinent details, including witness statements, as well as the “official” cause of the crash. For example, if the arriving officer cites the at-fault driver for a traffic violation and this is all included in the report, it makes it much more difficult for their insurance company to dispute the claim.
Get the other driver’s information: You will want to make sure to get the other driver’s (or drivers’ if there are more than two vehicles involved in the crash) basic contact information, as well as their automobile insurance company name and policy number. In some situations, the other party may be too injured to provide you with that information, so make sure one of those photos you take is of their vehicle’s license plate.
Contact an auto accident attorney Canoga Park, CA offers: Never answer any questions by the insurance company – either yours or the other driver’s – until you have spoken with a car accident attorney. In many cases, the insurance companies try to take statements made by accident victims and twist the words to use against them and deny the claim. Your attorney can advocate for you with the insurance company and speak to them directly, so you do not have to. Your attorney will also be the one to negotiate a fair and just settlement amount on your behalf or pursue litigation if the insurance company does not negotiate in good faith.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Barry P. Goldberg for their insight into steps to take after a car and personal injury cases.