7 Important Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Car accidents are an unfortunate, common fact of life. In a recent year, vehicle accidents in California resulted in approximately 278,000 people getting injured. Car accident safety starts with knowing what to expect in the event that you're involved in a wreck. This way, you can take the right steps, protect yourself, get help, and prepare a legal case.
Here are the main steps you need to follow after a car accident.
1. Make Sure You're OK
The first thing you must do is familiarize yourself with your surroundings and assess any potential injuries. Jumping out of the car without taking these steps can make a bad situation worse.
Put the vehicle in park, put on the emergency brake, and turn on your hazard lights. Communicate with your passengers to make sure they're lucid and awake. Get to know where you are by looking for street intersections and landmarks, and by checking the GPS system on your smartphone or in-car system.
Medical attention should be called immediately if you or your passengers exhibit signs of broken bones, lacerations, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or spinal cord injury. Proceed with caution before exiting the car, and make sure that you're highly visible to any other drivers or passersby.
2. Call the Authorities to Control the Scene
In addition to medical care, call 9-1-1- so that dispatchers can put you in touch with the local police, highway patrol, or sheriff's department. They will send someone out to you that can control the scene and make sure that traffic keeps flowing in a way that doesn't put you or your vehicle in danger.
The responding officer will also take note of the damage, get statements from you and any other involved drivers, interview witnesses, and survey the scene to create an accident report. Having this accident report will be helpful to you if your accident goes to court or a settlement.
You'll be able to obtain a report later once it's officially filed.
3. Exchange Contact and Insurance Information
Next, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver including full name, phone number, driver's license, license plate number, address, and insurance company and policy number. Keep your communication with them limited, as anything that you say can be used against you in court.
The responding officer can facilitate this exchange if the moment is too hectic or either of you is too injured to do so.
4. Seek Medical Attention and Documentation
Start documenting as much as you can about the vehicle accident. Take note of when it happened, how it occurred, and what kind of losses and expenses you're experiencing. Use your smartphone to get several photos and videos of the accident. This will serve as your proof later for court or an insurance claim.
Take photos and videos of the other driver's vehicle as well to show where the impact happened and the extent of it.
After an accident get medical attention so that you can learn exactly what types of injuries you suffered. This includes following up after an initial emergency room visit since it might take a few days for the pain to set in or injuries to become apparent. You might have to get medical imaging scans to know exactly what kind of injuries you suffered.
The physician can also refer you to a team of physical therapists, chiropractors, and other specialists if you are going to need ongoing care. Document all of the medical information from your injuries and keep copies of every bill as the costs accumulate and become clearer.
5. Call a Car Accident Lawyer
Next, you should consider hiring a car accident lawyer that can represent you in your case. This is arguably the most important step since they're an essential part of making sure that you get paid fair compensation for your damages.
The car accident attorney will prove the extent and legal basis for your injuries so that you don't have to figure out all the legal matters while you recover and get your vehicle fixed or replaced. Compile a list of the most qualified auto accident personal injury lawyers in Riverside and schedule some consultations with them.
A law firm will help you recount your accident so that you have all of the details needed for your claim. They will provide the custom-suited legal help you need, whether that means taking the issue to trial or negotiating a settlement.
6. Assess the Damage to Your Vehicle
Send your documentation to your insurance company and the insurance company of the other driver. Call up an adjuster that your insurance company recommends so that they can evaluate the damage and give an official assessment of the cost to fix or replace your automobile.
Make arrangements for your transportation so that you can still get to work and handle your errands in the meantime. Your insurance company may provide you with a rental car while your vehicle repairs are still being taken care of.
7. Build Your Case With Your Attorney
Once you've found and hired an attorney, you have to communicate with them and rely on the firm for updates and assistance. They will likely request more information from you periodically and will help you navigate the best course of action to recover the full amount that you are owed.
Car accident lawyers usually operate on a contingency fee basis. This means you won't have to pay legal fees until they win your car accident case. Essentially, you won't need to worry about any upfront costs when you hire your attorney.
Take the Right Steps After a Car Accident
The points above provide must-have information on what to do after a car accident. With the backing of a qualified attorney, no case is too big.
Sycamore Car Accident Lawyers has been helping car accident victims in Riverside since 2013. We'd be happy to learn more about your case to help you get the compensation that you need. Use our website to request a free consultation, or call us at (909)703-2064.