Despite the immediate shock from a car accident, it’s imperative that those involved remember some important steps to take. These steps can be used to help your claim and aid in providing compelling evidence should your case go to trial.
1. Get Medical Help
Whether an ambulance is on the scene or you must go to the emergency room after an accident, your health should be your top priority. You should get treatment as soon as possible for any injuries that you have sustained.
Your medical records will be part of your case, so make sure you give an honest and thorough history to your health care providers, including facts of the crash, your symptoms after the crash, and any similar problems you had before the crash.
2. Pull Over & Take Pictures
Move your vehicle away from the traffic lane if it is safe to do so. Do not attempt to exit your vehicle in traffic. If you cannot safely exit your vehicle, stay there until assistance arrives. Once you are safely pulled over, taking photos of the following can be helpful to your case. Try to capture images that show the following:
- The location your accident occurred—including any potential signs of negligence (e.g., tire marks from the driver having to slam on their brakes)
- The damage to all vehicles involved in the crash
- The visible injuries you have sustained, as well as those of any passengers in your car
Pictures can play a crucial role in helping to prove liability.
3. File an Accident Report
After the accident, file a report with both your insurance company and the local police, especially when there are bodily injuries and property damage. Filing a report provides multiple benefits to your potential claim.
First, you can get your statement down on record, describing the other vehicle and driver involved, providing all contact and insurance information, and giving your testimony on what exactly happened to cause the accident.
Second, the accident report can be used to pursue your claim further should the insurance company deny your right to compensation. Your accident report may also contain statements from witnesses interviewed by the officer on the scene, which may be used as evidence in a trial if your case makes it to that point.
4. Collect Information
California law requires drivers to carry minimum auto insurance for situations like this. When you’re involved in an accident, you should exchange your insurance information with the other driver and copy down their policy information. This step is critical in filing your claim. If you have a camera or smartphone, take photographs of driver licenses, vehicle registrations, license plates, and insurance paperwork, as well as all vehicle damage at the scene.
You also want to gather contact information for the driver for your insurance company and legal team. Sufficient information includes the other driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license information, and license plate number. Should you notice that the driver’s name is different than that on the insurance policy, note the relationship to report to your insurance company.
5. Report the accident to your insurance company
Most insurance policies require their insureds to report all accidents. Failure to do so might result in a denial of your claim for repair to your vehicle or uninsured motorist coverage. Also, your insurance company can assist you with your DMV reporting requirements.
You Need Legal Representation
Because you are dealing with insurance companies who have extensive legal teams, you need to have representation of your own. A lawyer can help you gather the necessary documents you may have missed at the time of the accident and prepare your case for settlement or trial.
An attorney can also help prevent you from doing some of the things that may damage your opportunity to pursue compensation. Here are some of the things you don’t want to do or say after an accident:
- Don’t jump to any conclusions about fault at the accident scene. Be courteous and gather the evidence you need to prove fault at the appropriate time.
- Don’t share specific information on social media. Even if your account settings are “private,” the insurance company can take your posts out of context and use them against you. Take a break from social media and focus on healing.
- Don’t leave the scene of the accident until you have exchanged information with the other parties involved. Not only is it illegal to do so, leaving the scene of the accident is viewed as an admission of guilt, and you may not be able to file a claim. It’s best to stay at the scene until the police arrive and make a report.
At Effres & Effres, we aim to protect you through the difficult times that lie ahead. Let us pursue the justice and compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we’re ready to help you.
Call our firm today at (818) 222-9720.