What to do After a Car Accident
Being involved in a car accident can be an incredibly overwhelming and traumatic experience. They occur out of the blue and when you least expect it, sometimes causing severe injuries and damage to personal property. It is important, however, to try to stay as calm as possible and handle the situation appropriately. The steps you take in the aftermath of an accident can dictate the tone of your personal injury case, so it is crucial to handle the situation properly.
Here are some steps you should always remember to follow after a car accident:
1. Never Leave the Scene
It is critical to remain at the scene of an accident until it is appropriate to leave, especially if there were any injuries or fatalities. Leaving the scene can result in serious criminal penalties and you will likely face hit-and-run charges.
2. Make Sure Everyone is Okay
Prior to examining any property damage, check on all drivers and passengers involved in the accident to ensure they are okay. Call for medical attention if necessary. If anyone is unconscious or suffered a neck or back injury, do not move him or her until qualified medical help is at the scene. If you move the injured person, you might inadvertently cause more damage.
3. Call the Police
Calling the police is an essential step you must take. An officer will be able to file a police report, documenting the incident. Be sure to acquire the names of the responding officers as well as their badge numbers.
4. Exchange Information
It is likely the officers will take down the information of those involved in the accident and that it will be included in the police report, which you should request a copy of, but people sometimes make mistakes and omit things, so be sure to exchange information with every party involved in the accident. This includes names, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information. If there were any passengers, be sure to collect their information as well. Throughout this process, try to remain polite and cooperative, but never apologize for anything. Many individuals do this on instinct, even when they are not at fault, but this is a mistake that can later be used against you. You can be cordial without apologizing for something you did not cause.
5.Speak with Witnesses
If there were any witnesses at the scene, ask them what they saw and write down their names, numbers, and addresses.
6. Inform Your Insurance Company
Contact and inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Be honest with them and tell them about the extent of your injuries, explaining the details of the incident as clearly as possible. You could get into serious trouble if you lie to your insurance company about anything and might be denied coverage for the accident.
7. Keep Records of Medical Treatment
Keep track of any medical treatment you receive regarding your injuries, including physical therapists, doctors, chiropractors, or other medical professionals. Request copes of medical reports and bills as proof of treatment and be sure to document any missed workdays, activities you can no longer partake in, and how the injuries have affected your daily life.
Your personal account of events is helpful, but pictures provide much more compelling evidence. Be sure to take pictures of any damage done to your vehicle. Many of us now have smartphones equipped with a camera, so use this to your advantage and take as many pictures as you can at the scene, including pictures of your injuries.
9. Have the Damage Done to Your Property Valuated
Your insurance company should conduct a valuation of the damage done to your property, but if you are not satisfied with this estimate, get two independent repair estimates and inform the adjuster. You might have to consult an attorney if you cannot agree on the value of your car.
10. Always Exercise Caution When Discussing the Accident
Only speak to your lawyer, your insurance company, or law enforcement about the accident. You are not required to get into any details about the accident with the at-fault party’s insurance company, so while you should remain polite, never divulge any information or provide a statement. If they really need to speak with someone, refer them to your attorney.
11. Do Not Accept an Early Settlement Offer
Generally, early settlement offers are unreasonably low, so always examine them with extreme circumspect. An insurance adjuster is betting that you might not want to endure negotiations, or that the medical bills and property damage associated with the accident are so great that you might be willing to accept anything. Do not let them take advantage of the vulnerable state you are in. These lowball offers are often not enough to compensate you for all the losses you have suffered.
12. Hire an Attorney
While you likely will not need an attorney for a minor fender bender in which no one sustained any injuries, there are many cases in which it is best to hire legal representation. It is also important not to assume that a lack of symptoms or pain means you were not injured. Many injuries take hours, days, even weeks to surface. Seek medical attention immediately for proper diagnosis and hire an attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
Skilled Car Accident Attorneys in Sacramento
If you have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another, you are in need of a personal injury attorney who will fight to pursue fair compensation on your behalf, so you are able to move forward with your life. At Miller Injury Attorneys, we represent clients injured in all types of motor vehicle accidents including rear end accidents, red light accidents, head-on collisions, DUI accidents, truck accidents, distracted driver accidents, and more. You should not have to suffer in silence or pay for someone else’s mistakes.
When you hire our law firm to represent your case, we provide attentive and responsive service and will always keep you updated on the status of your case, because we believe communication is key.
Contact us today at (916) 525-7761 for a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced Sacramento personal injury attorneys.