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Santa Monica Personal Injury Lawyers
- October 8, 2016
While there are millions of accidents each year, the experience is anything but routine when it happens to you. After the shock of the accident wears off, you may be saddled with staggering medical bills, loss of income and property damage. Understanding what to do if you are in an accident is the best way to recover quickly from your accident and get the money you deserve for your injuries.
What to Do if You are Involved in an Accident
If you are hurt in a slip and fall or other accident, the most important thing is to ensure your safety. Move away from any hazards and get to a safe area. If you have extensive injuries, don’t attempt to move as you can make them worse. Call 911 immediately, even if you don’t think you have been hurt. Emergency personnel can check you over to make sure you don’t have any hidden injuries. Remember that not all injuries are immediately apparent. Some injuries, like soft tissue injuries, make take hours or even days to appear.
Take photographs and video of the scene before emergency personnel arrive. Most accident scenes are cleaned up quickly, and you may not have the opportunity to get photos later. Take pictures of road hazards—a car door standing open for example—weather conditions and traffic signals. This can help you later if you are required to testify in court. If there are witnesses nearby, gather their contact information, and ask them to give an account of what they saw. It is helpful if you can video record this statement. Witnesses rarely stick around long, so get their information while you can.
What Not to Do if You Are Injured
Don’t leave the scene of the accident. Even if you are not badly hurt, it is a bad idea to leave the scene. The police will want to talk to both parties, and if you are not there, they will get one side of the story from the other party. Give your account of what happened as accurately as you can. If you are not sure of certain information, do not guess or speculate. Simply say that you do not know. Making incorrect statements can hurt your case later and make it harder for you to recover damages.
Do not apologize or admit fault. If you were distracted at the time of the accident, don’t tell this to the witnesses or the police. Don’t say “I’m so sorry, I wasn’t paying attention,” or make similar statements. This will be used against you in court later as proof that you were at fault for the accident.
Don’t skip doctor’s appointments. You will need documentation of your injuries in order to get money for your claim. Keep all records and documents in one central location to review with your attorney.
Don’t respond to any communication from the other party, their attorney or their insurance company. Insurance company representatives will often call accident victims to “get their side of the story,” in a little informal chat. This conversation is meant to gather information from you that can be used against you in court. If you receive a check in the mail from the other party or their insurance company, do not cash it. Cashing a check from the other party is essentially like accepting a settlement, and this will preclude you from asking for additional damages from the court. Remember that the insurance company’s goal is to pay you as little as possible, and they will do whatever they can to avoid paying for your injuries. If you receive any correspondence from them, contact your lawyer and let him speak on your behalf.
You Need an Attorney if You Have Been Injured
If you have been injured in an accident, you need an attorney who will fight for your rights. You may be suffering from a loss of income, painful injuries and damaged property. You will need money to care for your family and to cover your expenses. At the El Dabe firm, we have a team of attorneys who are experts in personal injury law and will handle your case with integrity and dignity. There is never a fee unless you win. Call us today for a free consultation.