A car accident can be a frightening and overwhelming experience. In the aftermath of the crash, you may be feeling dizzy, confused, hurt, or enraged, but it’s vital that you take a deep breath and focus on the next steps you need to take to protect yourself and prepare for the process ahead. Here’s what you should do right after the accident to protect your rights and make the claims process as easy as possible.
Make an assessment of the situation
Start by assessing what needs to be done and if anyone is hurt. If anyone is injured, call 911 so an ambulance and police will respond to the scene. Be sure to call police even if the accident was fairly minor as the responding police officer will complete an official police report to give to your insurance company.
If possible, take pictures of the scene and position of the vehicles if safe to do so before moving them to the shoulder if they are still operational. Be alert as other drivers on the road may be too busy looking at the damage to see what you’re doing.
When police respond, tell the investigating officer what happened, as best as you can. If you are unsure of anything, let the police know. If you are not sure if you are injured, be sure you state this; don’t just say you’re fine or uninjured. Make sure your statements are as accurate as possible as they will be reflected in the report and to the insurance company.
From there, take pictures of everything to document the crash and anything that may have contributed to the collision. Take pictures of the position of the vehicles, damage to the cars, skid marks, road conditions, and nearby street signs. You can also draw a diagram of the scene to help you and take notes about anything you remember while it’s still fresh in your memory.
In most cases, the investigating police officer gathers contact information for involved parties, but you should do it if the police do not respond. Get contact information for everyone involved, including drivers and passengers. If there are witnesses to the accident, ask for contact information so you or your injury lawyer can contact them later for a statement.
Contact the Insurance Company
Make sure you notify the insurance company as soon as possible as most policies require immediate reporting. Don’t delay in informing the insurance company of an accident as it can damage your ability to file a claim.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
One of the most important things you can do to strengthen your case is seeking immediate medical attention. Remember that many injuries caused by a car accident are not apparent right away due to the shock and adrenaline. Even if you feel fine, seek medical attention to check your condition. A delay in medical treatment will be used by the insurance company to claim you were not as injured as you claim or that your injuries weren’t related to the accident.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
The next step is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles to discuss your case. Your lawyer can help you protect your rights and ensure evidence is not destroyed. Your lawyer will also help you with legal advice before giving any statements to the insurance company and negotiate on your behalf for a fair settlement. Keep in mind personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you will have no out-of-pocket legal fees or any attorney fees at all unless and until the lawyer recovers compensation for you.