A car wreck that causes injuries can be a frightening experience—especially if it was caused by another driver. If you've never been in a crash before, you might not know what rights you have to injury compensation and what actions you should take.
The aftermath of an accident is a hurried and confusing time, but it's critical to remember a few key actions to develop a solid claim. To help you, let's walk through this checklist by our San Diego auto accident attorney.
Don't Put Off Medical Care After an Accident
While all of us know to get immediate care for injuries after a major crash, even slight fender benders might cause more damage than you think. So take care of your health first. Visit an urgent care facility or your usual healthcare provider for an exam. There are two reasons for prompt medical care.
First, you may have suffered a hidden injury and not experienced any symptoms for days or longer after the crash. Protect your health and avoid the risk of injuries becoming life-threatening by having
a thorough exam.
Common medical conditions that aren't immediately apparent include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
Additionally, having a record of an early diagnosis helps you avoid disputes with the insurance company about the cause of your injuries. With documentation from a physician's examination, the carrier can't claim your injuries are the result of another incident.
Call the California Police to the Scene
Their initial investigation and report contain helpful information, such as details about how the collision occurred, who the police determined was at fault, and whether any traffic citations were issued. You're allowed a copy of the report for your records as well. While you can file a claim it, an adjuster evaluates your case more seriously with it.
Get Contact Information From the Driver and Witnesses
You'll need information such as the other person's contact details, driver's license number, registered insurance, car make and model, and license plate number. Also, ask for contact details from eyewitnesses who can corroborate how the crash occurred. Their statements can be especially persuasive if they're neutral witnesses who have no stake in the outcome of your claim. If you're in no condition to do this yourself, someone on the scene or the attending police officer might be able to help. This information is necessary evidence to win your case.
Photo-Document the Scene
Take pictures of the damage to the vehicles, the crash scene, your injuries, and anything else helpful in proving your case. If you're too injured to do this yourself, ask a passenger in your vehicle or a bystander to help.
Don't Accept a Quick Offer
An insurance adjuster for the other party involved in the crash will contact you within days. They may even suggest an opportunity to settle your claim right away. Don't accept a quick settlement of your claim. It may be a low-ball offer to try to convince you to accept compensation for much less than you deserve. Never agree to any settlement without first consulting with a lawyer.
Hire a Reputable California Attorney
While you might have a family lawyer who handles much of your other business, personal injury cases like car accidents are handled best by professional legal counsel who specializes in this area of law. Here are just a few of the ways they can help:
- Investigate your accident and collect evidence to prove the other driver’s negligence in causing it.
- Accurately value your claim and secure all proper documentation to prove your damages.
- Help you avoid actions that hurt your case, such as agreeing to give a recorded statement or signing the insurance company’s blanket medical release.
- File your claim and negotiate a fair, just settlement.
- Also file a lawsuit if necessary before the statute of limitations—which is the deadline you have to sue—expires if the insurance company refuses to be reasonable.