If you’ve never been in a car accident, you’ve probably had some close calls. The truth is that driving requires hyperawareness. If you are on the roads and feel sedated in the morning or night, this is when accidents are most likely to happen.
A lot of accidents are attributed to a perception impairment called morning fog. Your reflexes and senses can still be floating somewhere in lah-lah land before you have your morning coffee or a decent meal. Therefore, it is important that you remember the key steps to take after a car accident to preserve your compensation claims in full. Let’s discuss these steps below.
#1: Assess Injuries and Seek Treatment
In almost any car accident, there are going to be injuries. Although the onset of neurological symptoms and less obvious symptoms, such as whiplash, may be delayed, injuries are almost guaranteed. What you should never do is assume that you are alright.
As a common courtesy, you should also check on the wellness of other parties and help to assess their needs. But never leave the scene of the accident, even if it is to run for emergency help, without leaving your insurance and contact info behind to avoid hit-and-run driver charges.
Unless you were in a mere fender-bender in a stationary vehicle that was no more than a bump, some invisible shock waves likely transferred through the vehicle and your body. You can sustain injuries even if you were traveling at five miles per hour, jogging speed, because the impact is as jarring as jogging straight into a brick wall. And if the other vehicle was coming from the opposite direction, the impact speeds are added together between both vehicles.
By seeking emergency medical attention and having yourself checked out at the first sensation of injury, you can strengthen your claims and obtain better care. There are some injuries, such as deep puncture wounds, that can go unnoticed because you feel fine when the main nerves are severed by the puncture. You may also have internal bleeding, swelling or inflammation of the brain, or other problems that should be evaluated by a professional.
#2: Obtain a Police Report
Even though a police report may not resolve liability disputes in an accident, it can help to solidify the facts of when the accident occurred and the identities of the defendants. An officer can also detect if they were driving intoxicated and may help you to build a liability theory with leads and statements.
Your Los Angeles accident attorney will be able to remove disputes over many key facts with a police report. It is not unheard of for an unlicensed driver to claim that someone else was driving the vehicle who was a passenger. It is hard for defendants to collaborate stories when police quickly arrive on the scene.
#3: Preserve Evidence
Although you may need the best car accident lawyer to work with the best forensic accident reconstruction experts, you can preserve a lot of evidence for your case by yourself. If you take photos of the immediate damage to both vehicles, any tire marks on the road, and the people involved, you can eliminate a lot of question marks. You can also look for road hazards and any important signs that may create a right of way or other evidence in your favor for your car accident lawyer or representative.
And by hiring Los Angeles accident attorney, you can also force the defendants to preserve their “black box” that records the speed that they were traveling at the moment of impact and other info. Since the rules of the road are often used to determine who is at fault, using this information can secure an easy victory.
#4: Obtain Witness Statements
Accident witnesses will typically arrive onto the scene and help. They may also offer their testimony of who is at fault if they observed the accident in detail. Recording their statements using your SmartPhone video and taking down their contact info for a formal, sworn affidavit can go a long way in persuading an insurance company to fold.
#5: Exchange Information
You should always obtain all names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s licenses, plate numbers, and insurance information cards from other drivers. If you can take photos of the documents using your SmartPhone, this is the easiest way to make records. Always assume that you may suffer from the delayed onset of symptoms even if you feel fine and your vehicle does not appear to be damaged.
#6: Contact Your Insurance Company
Most insurance policies require you to notify your own personal insurer within a set timeframe. This can be as much as 90 days but may also be much shorter. Some or all of the compensation for the accident may be paid through your insurance if you have full coverage or additional coverages for uninsured or underinsured motorists. Since many accidents are caused by unlicensed and uninsured motorists, it is a good idea to get this coverage.
#7: Choose Your Words Wisely
When you are speaking with police officers who arrive at the scene of the accident, always stick to the hard and provable facts. Don’t speculate or open up any cans of worms on what may have caused the accident. In the majority of accidents, no one knows for sure what happened until weeks later.
When you are not at fault in an accident, you usually have little or no personal knowledge of what occurred. If you do, you have to explain why you could not avoid the accident yourself with defensive driving techniques to obtain full compensation. You should look for the best car accident lawyer around to prepare a demand statement for the insurance company because every word counts.
You should not even make any statements to the insurance companies because they are likely recording the statements and looking for inconsistencies or admissions of fault to weaken your claims. All that you are required to do is provide them with your name, address, and phone number. Give them your attorney’s number for any other questions.
#8: Document Injuries and Financial Damages
After the car accident, you have to keep track of all expenses that are intrinsically related to the car accident. Simply ask yourself whether you would have had to paid for this or missed this income or opportunity if the accident did not occur. In many cases, there are lots of collateral damages that linger on for years or a lifetime after an accident. It is important to note your progress and to ensure that you make a clear picture of medications that you took, therapies you underwent, and any symptoms of pain or abnormalities that you experienced.
The best advice that we can give to any accident victim is to seek the help of experienced car accident attorneys in Los Angeles. Our firm has a track record of putting hard work into our clients’ cases and obtaining successful results.
Although each case must be evaluated independently, we provide free consultations and are happy to assist you beyond your legal needs. We can point you to experienced medical experts who treat your injuries and doctors who are happy to make clear records of your injuries. Call today to start taking back everything that the accident stole from you.