A car accident is often a traumatic and stressful event. Injuries are commonly present for the persons involved, ranging from less severe to life threatening. Aside from health issues, there are financial implications, usually solved thanks to car insurance. Be that as it may, the best option in any case is getting legal aid from a professional car accident attorney. Californian streets are subject to reckless driving or similar issues, and car accidents are quite common. Knowing how and what to do if you find yourself involved in such an event is recommended. Here are a few suggestions to avoid compounding your stress:
DO Pull out of the Travel Lane
DO pull out of the travel lane if possible and exchange driver's license and insurance information at the scene. Blocking the traffic due to an accident can provoke more unwanted events and a car accident is already a handful.
Leaving the scene of an accident is not a good idea even if you consider you have no fault at all. Instead try to keep a calm attitude and if you or someone else is injured, contact 911 for medical assistance.
DO Take a Few Pictures with Your Phone
DO take a few pictures with your phone of the damage to both vehicles, and of the scene itself, and if you believe it might be relevant, also photograph the intersection, temporary constructions, signage or street markings. Injuries should also be photographed.
Photographs are important because they can become evidence in the following investigation and insurance claim. If injured and unable to take photos, a friend or family member should take them in your place.
DO Take down Contact Information
DO take down contact information if you talk to an eyewitness, because this is sometimes missed by the investigating traffic officer, or the witness may not wait to give a statement. An eyewitness can be invaluable in a disputed liability case.
Unfortunately, you can't rely on what the other driver says or admits at the scene. Californian law states that all parties involved must exchange contact information, so you should insist on this fact. Driver's license and license plate numbers are the priority.
On the flip side, here are some things to avoid - DON'T Admit Wrongdoing at the Scene
DON'T admit wrongdoing at the scene. If you are at fault, stick to the truthful facts but leave your opinions to yourself. Arguing with any other party is a terrible idea that will probably come back to bite you. Also, if for example a witness hears you admit or deny anything, it could become relevant in a court of law.
If not sure about the events that led to the accident, it's best to play a quiet role. Listening to others' discussion can help you understand your involvement and is a safe way to go at it.
DON'T Give a Recorded Statement
Whether you were at fault or the innocent driver, DON'T give a recorded statement to the other driver's insurance company. Invariably, the more times you talk about an event, the more opportunities there are for minor discrepancies each time you tell it.
An insurance company, and eventually a lawyer, will likely exploit even innocent mis-recollections or changes in your story to attack your credibility. The opposing insurance adjuster is not your friend and is not calling to help you.
DON'T Ignore Your Injuries
DON'T ignore your injuries. If you're in a significant crash and hurting, get checked out. Insurance companies like to argue that a delay in seeking treatment means you weren't really injured. Remember that photos of any and all injuries can be the best evidence you need.
The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) must be notified of any injury through a report in less than 10 days. Moreover, even in the case of a mild or moderate injury, a car accident attorney should be contacted as soon as possible.
DON'T Hesitate to Call a Reputable Personal Injury Attorney
DON'T hesitate to call a reputable personal injury attorney for advice early in the process. If you've been injured, you might find out that you have valid claims for more than one type of compensation. It doesn't cost anything to contact a car accident attorney and most are willing to provide you with their guidance and expertise, even if they conclude that you are better off handling the matter yourself.
John M. O'Brien & Grant Zehnder are top-rated personal injury lawyers serving Rancho Murieta Neighbors for over 26 years.
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Rancho Murieta Neighbors magazine.