After being involved in a car accident, you may feel frazzled and disoriented. However, it is important to remain calm, assess the situation, and make sure you take the appropriate steps to ensure that you are safe and have the proper documentation in place to obtain any recovery for your injuries that you deserve. Make sure you take these five steps after being involved in a car accident, and call an experienced car accident attorney immediately so he or she can help you start seeking compensation for your injuries.
Examine yourself and your passengers for injuries.
The first thing you should do is examine yourself and others in your vehicle for any injuries. If there are any injuries whatsoever, make sure to call an ambulance immediately. Allow the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to examine you for injuries you may not be able to see, and if they advise you to go to the hospital, follow their recommendation even if you do not feel pain at the time. Oftentimes the impact from a car accident can cause underlying health issues to arise, and a doctor will be able to detect those underlying issues and provide a medical report with your diagnosis. By refusing to go to the hospital, you are showing a future court that you were not in fact injured by the car accident and thus are not entitled to recovery for your injuries.
Call the police.
In some instances, particularly if the other party was at fault, they might try to talk you into settling the accident on your own rather than getting the police involved. In fact, California law requires that you report any car accident that results in injury, death, or property damage over $1,000 to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days after the accident. By not reporting the accident, not only do you forgo any compensation you could have received for your injuries, but your license may also be suspended by the DMV for failure to comply with California law.
Cooperate with the police.
The police will ask to see your driver’s license, proof of registration, and proof of financial responsibility (e.g. insurance card), so make sure you have those documents ready. Most likely, the police will also ask you questions about the accident, which you should answer as truthfully as you can.
Obtain witness statements.
While it is the police officer’s job to investigate the accident and obtain all information relevant to the accident, it can not hurt for you to help the police gather evidence. If the other party is willing to talk, try to ask the other party for his or her account of what happened and obtain the statement in writing. If there were other witnesses nearby, try to obtain written witness statements from the witnesses, as well. The more evidence and information you are able to obtain from the scene of the accident, the more you will be able to help your case down the line.
Take photographs and videos of the scene.
Again, the key is documenting. In addition to obtaining witness statements from the other party and any witnesses nearby, you will want to take photos of the scene if you have a camera or camera phone on you at the time of the accident. Take photographs of the interior and exterior of all vehicles involved, as well as the road conditions, any barriers nearby, and anything else you think would be helpful to a judge making a determination on your case. If possible, take videos of the scene, as well, so there is no dispute as to exactly what the photos depict.
The car accident attorneys at Willoughby Brod LLP have helped countless individuals obtain full recoveries for their injuries after being involved in a car accident, and we want to help you do the same. Contact us online or at (800) 427-7020 for your free consultation today.
(image courtesy of nicolas-barbier-garreau)