If you are injured in an automotive accident, the clock immediately starts ticking to build a case. Witnesses and other evidence can quickly disappear if you don’t work hard to record and collect it. Everything that you say, from this point on, can make or break your claims.
In addition, you also must deal with the financial stress, physical injuries, and emotional toll that an accident takes on you. Nevertheless, clients who take the following steps to preserve a claim fare the best chance of obtaining full compensation.
1: Contact Emergency Personnel
A serious car accident can result in injuries that require immediate medical attention. Before anything else, you should always call 911 to speak with a dispatcher about the need for any medical help or assistance from law enforcement officers.
When any accident occurs at speeds as low as 8 to 14 miles per hour, the airbags will deploy and immobilize the vehicle to prevent fires or damage to the engine. This means that you will also need to call for a tow truck. Your vehicles should not be driven until the full extent of damage is assessed and the airbags are replaced. Although it is not illegal to drive with deployed airbags, per se, it can be considered negligence if you get into another accident and you or someone else is injured.
Police are useful after an accident because they eliminate any doubt about who the other drivers may be and can professionally assess whether they are intoxicated at the scene. They may even be able to get the other drivers to confess that they didn’t see a sign or got distracted by something before the accident occurred.
Nevertheless, the police may also try to argue that you are somehow responsible for failing to brake or react in a chain collision. Therefore, you should be careful about what you say to the police and provide only the most basic information.
2: Stay on the Scene
Never leave a car accident scene until you’ve resolved everything by exchanging information with the other drivers. Even if you have good intentions of fleeing the scene because you are late for an appointment, the police will cite you for hit-and-run.
The exception may be if you are in a remote area and you have to call for help because the other driver is injured and immobilized. In this case, if you leave a note with your contact info and a note that you ran for help, this would be a solid defense. There are areas where the cellphone reception is lacking and situations where it is not logical to wait for a driver to return to their parked vehicle.
3: Obtain Contact Info of Other Drivers
It is just as important for you to obtain the contact info of other drivers as it is to give out your own. This is the only way to identify who may be responsible if you are forced to file a claim for compensation later on. You should never assume that you will not need medical care if everything feels okay now. Some injuries won’t manifest until hours, days, or weeks after an accident.
Taking a Smartphone photo of the other drivers’ licenses, license plates, insurance cards, and vehicle registration cards is the fastest way to obtain this info. But ensure that their current addresses are correct and also get their phone numbers. Your car accident personal injury lawyer will need all of this info to file a lawsuit.
4: Record Witness Statements
Witnesses are an invaluable resource in personal injury cases. Because a witness has nothing to gain by being dishonest, their version of what occurred and who is at fault is weighty evidence that is hard to rebut. And establishing fault in accidents can be tricky. An eye-witness can provide concrete testimony to fill in the holes. And because accidents are so situational, your auto car injury lawyer will have a virtual videotape of the crash unfolding.
5: Make Your Own Record of Circumstances
Most of the evidence in a car crash is time-sensitive. If you leave the scene, things can change. Those puddles, ice sheets, overcast skies, rain, or road hazards may be gone in hours. Although the weather is not something that you can use to hold the other driver responsible, it can at least allow you to file a claim on your own insurance if the weather is to blame.
However, weather-related claims can be complicated. Discount insurance policies are not likely to cover what are essentially acts of God even if you were driving as safe as possible and bad weather suddenly rolled in. The insurance company may argue that you are at fault because you simply shouldn’t be driving in such weather. Nevertheless, if you have to get to work and make a living, that may justify it as a necessity.
West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you examine your policy if the weather was a factor. You should also record and videotape the aftermath of the accident. Graphic pictures of your injuries, the smashed vehicle, debris on the road, and key pieces of evidence, such as a neglected yield sign, can all work in your favor.
6: Maintain Your Innocence
Although nothing is ever too black and white in reality, a Los Angeles accident attorney has to eliminate misleading tangents that can undermine your case. It is not relevant to discuss minor ways by which you may have contributed to your own accident. Sure, you could have been more alert and braked sooner in a perfect world.
Maybe you should have seen that the driver had blown off the stop sign and slammed the gas pedal to get out of the way. Whatever hypothetical contributions of fault you made, only the objective errors of negligence by the other drivers are worth mentioning. Although it may seem polite or sympathetic to apologize when the drivers at fault are injured, this will automatically defeat your case.
Furthermore, be careful about social media. Posting misleading photos of yourself smiling or dancing around may be used against you as evidence that you were not seriously injured. Don’t post photos of you smiling on Facebook with a caption highlighting that you were just in a car accident.
7: Contact Your Insurance Company
Your car accident personal injury lawyer may be forced to file a lawsuit against your own insurance company if the other driver lacks insurance, is underinsured, or if the weather was a key factor. Therefore, you should contact your insurer, as soon as possible, while being careful to avoid ambiguous statements that may infer guilt.
Stick to the hard facts of what occurred. If insurance adjusters contact you on behalf of the other drivers, you don’t have to explain anything. You can simply provide your name, address, and phone number. Then, let your auto injury lawyer prepare a statement for you.
West Coast Trial Lawyers have the decades of experience and focus needed to achieve stellar results with any personal injury case. You can obtain a free consultation and assessment of your case’s strength. Then, a Los Angeles accident attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and present your claims with the utmost clarity to obtain full compensation.