Car accidents occur for a variety of reasons, including driver negligence, lack of competence or training of the driver, and driving under the influence, just to name a few. But regardless of the reasons behind the accident, you must ensure your safety and safeguard your legal rights (including your right to claim damages) following the accident.
Millions of car accidents occur in the United States every year. In 2016, 260 people were killed as a result of traffic crashes in Los Angeles, an increase of nearly 43 percent over the previous year. While observing basic road safety can help prevent car accidents, you’ll need to observe the following tips to protect yourself and your interests after a car accident.
Things to Do After a Car Accident
1. Check Yourself and Others for Injuries.
If you or any of your passengers are injured, call 911. As injuries caused by a vehicular accident may not be felt immediately, it’s best to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Victims sometimes feel pain one to two days following the accident, and some of the long-term injuries don’t become apparent until after the victim is examined by a doctor.
2. Don’t Drive Off.
It is your legal duty to stop if you’re involved in a car accident. Whether it’s a fender bender or a major collision, you have to pull over your vehicle after a collision. If you drive off following the accident, you can be charged with hit and run.
3. Contact the Authorities.
In some states, contacting the police is required if you get into an accident. But even if it’s not a requirement in your state, it’s better to get the authorities involved, as this would be to your benefit if a lawsuit is filed following the accident. The responding officer will fill out an accident report and document the accident site. Alternatively, if the police cannot come to the scene, you can go to the nearest station and file a report yourself.
4. Document the Scene of the Accident.
Use your phone, or any camera that you have, to take pictures of the visible damages sustained by your car. Get photos of your injuries as well if you’ve suffered any. Once the police investigation begins, back off immediately and do not interfere. If you’re prohibited from taking photos at the scene, remember to do this as soon as possible after the accident.
5. Narrate the Events Accurately.
Once the authorities arrive, inform them about the events that occurred as accurately as possible. If you’re not 100 percent sure about what happened, let the officer know and avoid misstating facts. Make sure that the other party involved in the accident provides accurate details as well. Just as importantly, if you’re not sure if you were injured following the accident, let the authorities know. This is because the pain and injuries following a car accident sometimes become apparent hours after the accident.
6. Gather Contact Information.
Ask for the names, contact numbers, and addresses of the other parties involved in the accident. Don’t forget to note down insurance information. Also, gather details from eye witnesses (if there are any) so that you and your lawyer can contact them in the future.
7. Notify Your Insurance Company.
A lot of policies require immediate reporting of an accident, which is why you should notify your insurance company right away, even at the scene of the accident, if you can. The police can be helpful when contacting your insurance company since they can provide credible information, which should prove useful if you’re in a state of distress.
8. Gather All Your Accident-related Info and Expenses.
Compile all your accident-related documents and information, including the contact details and insurance information of all the parties involved. Don’t forget to save the receipts for car rentals and other expenses that were incurred by the accident.
What Not to Do After a Car Accident
Resist admitting responsibility after a car accident even if you were partly at fault. Once you state your guilt, you set yourself up for legal responsibility and might inadvertently give up any future rights in any lawsuit or insurance case filed against you. What’s more, your legal contract with your car insurance company states that you shouldn’t assume liability or responsibility under these circumstances.
Another thing to never do is negotiate claims with the other person involved in the car accident. Some people get worried that insurance rates would surge if they approach their insurance company, so they make the mistake of directly negotiating with the other party. The problem with this is that the damage sustained might be more serious than it looks.
Seek Help From a Los Angeles-based Car Accident Lawyer
If you file a personal injury claim with either your insurance company or the at-fault party’s insurance company, you must be prepared to negotiate a settlement with an insurance adjuster.
Although it is possible to obtain a fair settlement from the insurance company on your own, hiring an experienced car accident attorney is your best bet in obtaining the maximum compensation to cover your injuries and losses. Mesriani Law Group’s experienced team of attorneys will strive to ensure that you gain just compensation for all your troubles and will guide you every step of the way to ensure that your rights are protected.