It’s common for people who are involved in car accidents to experience confusion during the aftermath. Because of the shock of being involved in a motor vehicle collision, many people might not know what to do or how to react. The steps people take in the moments following a collision are important because they can have a big impact on their health and ability to recover compensation for their losses. Below are five steps from reputable California car accident attorneys to protect themselves and their rights.
1. Fulfill Your Legal Duties at the Accident Scene
In California, anyone who is involved in an accident involving injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more must report the accident to the police and California Department of Motor Vehicles. As a driver, you must also exchange your information with the other motorist involved in your crash. Provide your name, address, phone number and insurance information to the other driver, and ask for their information, too. You should also exchange insurance information with each other.
2. Check For Injuries
While you’re waiting for the police, check yourself and others to see if anyone has been injured. If someone needs help, provide first aid until the emergency responders arrive and can take over. Avoid moving someone who appears to be seriously injured because doing so could cause further injuries. However, if you have no choice but to move someone because of a dangerous condition, go ahead and do so.
3. Take Photos at the Scene and Document What Happened
If you aren’t too injured to do so, use your smartphones camera to take photographs at the scene of your accident. You should take as many pictures as possible, including photos of the positions of each involved vehicle, the damage to each car, the road conditions, the weather conditions, accident debris in the road, tire skid marks, nearby intersections, traffic control devices, and any other details you think might be relevant. If you have visible injuries, take pictures of them.
4. Be Careful With What You Say
Right after your collision, resist the urge to apologize to the other motorist. Even if you think the collision might have been your fault, you should avoid apologizing or accepting blame. What you say right after your accident can be used against you by the insurance company later, so avoid those types of incriminating statements. Similarly, when you are talking to the police, stick to the facts and avoid admitting fault. When you report your accident to the at-fault drivers insurance company, you also need to watch what you say. Insurance companies and the adjusters who work for them are skilled at eliciting statements from accident victims that can be used to reduce the value of their claims. Avoid talking about your injuries. Never agree to give a recorded statement to an adjuster about your accident. Instead, consult with an attorney before providing a statement.
5. Seek Medical and Legal Help
You should go to a doctors office or the hospital any time you are involved in an accident and are injured. When you receive care immediately after your car crash, it can also help to keep the insurance company from claiming your injuries happened because of a different incident instead of your crash. Once you have received medical treatment, it’s a good idea for you to consult an experienced car accident attorney. Experienced can help you understand the rights you might have and your next steps.