San Diego consistently ranks among the best places to live and work in the United States. Unfortunately, that does not make the city immune to accidents and incidents that can cause serious injuries and fatalities. Crashes on the 805, slip-and-falls at restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter, and all manner of preventable mishaps at businesses and homes from Mira Mesa to Encanto routinely disrupt lives and inflict extensive pain and loss.
While all of these accidents occur in vastly different ways, there are certain actions you can take after any accident resulting in injury to protect your health, wellbeing, and legal rights to receive compensation for the harm you have suffered.
This blog post discusses those actions, explaining how they can benefit accident injury victims. The tips below do not, however, constitute legal advice. For guidance about the specific steps you should follow after an accident that harmed you or a loved one, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer right away.
You were hurt in an accident. Now what?
You’re injured, in pain, and terrified. You worry you’ve suffered a permanent disability that will prevent you from working and living a fulfilling life. It may even impair your ability to handle daily personal care tasks on your own. It could change your relationship with your family and friends. You know for certain that you now face large and unexpected costs, especially medical bills, that you have no idea how to pay.
These are just some of the harmful impacts that an individual can face after suffering an injury in a preventable accident in San Diego. After an accident, you cannot wave a magic wand and make these difficulties go away. However, by taking the following steps, you may succeed in reducing the impact of your accident-related injuries on your life by safeguarding your health and preserving your legal rights.
Get the Medical Care You Need and Do What Your Doctor Tells You
The single most important thing you can do to help yourself after getting hurt in an accident is to seek appropriate medical care immediately, and then follow your treatment plan no matter how difficult or disruptive to your life it feels. Someone else’s misconduct may have caused your injuries, but it’s up to you to heal from them as best you can.
The first and most significant reason to seek medical care is, of course, to protect your health and wellbeing. Oftentimes, accident victims in San Diego underestimate the severity, or even the existence, of the injuries they have suffered. Reasons this happens can range from adrenaline and stress in the wake of an accident masking their pain, to embarrassment about the accident compelling them to downplay any pain they feel, to symptoms that are simply unnoticeable at first.
But make no mistake: some serious types of injuries—including brain trauma, degenerative back injury, and organ damage—may not exhibit noticeable symptoms right away, but they could get much, much worse if you do not catch and begin treating them quickly. You cannot trust yourself to know the extent of your injuries after an accident in San Diego. Instead, you need a trained medical professional to examine you as soon as possible.
Just as critical, you must do what your doctor tells you to treat the injuries you have suffered. Ignoring a doctor’s advice is every bit as dangerous as not seeking medical care in the first place. It might not feel fair that someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful actions have forced you to spend time, effort, and money on medical care, but that is the situation and it will not go away through wishful thinking.
Here’s another important reason for you to seek and follow medical care after getting hurt in a San Diego accident: your legal rights may depend on it. By getting care, you create evidence—medical records, specifically—that document your injuries and their causes. You also create evidence that you did your best to heal. This evidence may well become crucial to proving a case for damages against the party at fault for your accident and injuries.
Watch What You Say and to Whom You Say It (and Stay Off Social Media)
What you choose to communicate to others about your accident may have a profound impact on your legal rights. Always be careful about what you say and to whom you say it.
Small statements can become big problems.
Watching what you say can amount to resisting some very normal human instincts. Individuals caught up in the chaos and confusion of an accident and its immediate aftermath often tend to take responsibility for situations and outcomes that aren’t remotely their fault.
They say things like:
- “I should have seen him coming.”
- “I’m such a klutz.”
- “I’m so sorry this happened.”
- “If only I had [fill in the blank]…”
We say these things without thinking about them. We may even think that’s what we’re expected to say, to be polite or compassionate to others.
But you must resist the urge to say anything of the sort after getting hurt in an accident in San Diego. As natural and normal as these statements may seem in everyday settings, they can get twisted into admissions of your own fault and responsibility for an accident when defense lawyers and insurance adjusters get involved. Those throwaway comments could cost you thousands, even millions, of dollars in compensation by making you look like the one to blame for what happened.
Insurance adjusters aren’t your friends, and even your friends could end up as witnesses against you.
Exercise extreme caution about whom you talk to about your accident and injuries.
First, never trust an insurance adjuster, even one who represents your own insurance carrier. No matter how friendly or helpful a representative of an insurance company may seem, their mission is the exact opposite of yours. You want money from insurance to help pay for your injuries and expenses. They want to find reasons to pay you as little as possible, or nothing at all.
You may have an obligation to report an accident to your own insurance company, as a condition of coverage you paid for. It’s usually fine to do that, but always stick strictly to the bare-bones facts of what happened. Don’t get drawn into a discussion of who was at fault, and always remember the dangers of making stray comments as we described above. Refer any complex questions to your lawyer.
In contrast, you usually have no obligation whatsoever to speak with a representative from someone else’s insurance company. As a rule of thumb, if you can avoid having any such conversation, you should.
Insurance adjusters from someone else’s carrier may try to get you to talk, and they can sound very persuasive. They may dangle settlement money in front of you, or the promise of payments if you authorize a release of your medical records. Do not fall for these tricks; they’re designed to find ways to undermine your legal rights to compensation.
Second, try to avoid discussing your accident and injuries with family, friends, and co-workers. The more information you give them about your injuries, the more likely you make it that an insurance adjuster or defense lawyer will want to interview them, and maybe even make them a witness against you. Do them and yourself a favor: stay tight-lipped about your accident and injuries to everyone, except for your personal injury lawyer.
Stay off social media.
Finally, you must always be careful about what you post on social media about your accident. Ideally, you shouldn’t post anything at all. Why not? Because insurance companies mine the social media accounts of accident victims looking for anything they can use to undermine victims’ claims. Even a picture of you smiling can get transformed into proof that you’re not as injured as you say you are.
After getting injured in a San Diego-area accident caused by someone else’s wrongful actions, everything you possess that relates in any way to that accident or your injuries constitutes a potential piece of evidence to use to prove a compensation case. Information, documentation, and physical items of personal property all may play a critical role in getting you the money you need to pay your medical bills and return to living your life.
So, it can help to become (temporarily) a hoarder—a hoarder of evidence, to be precise. As soon as possible after an accident and injury occur, start gathering, collecting, and saving any evidence you can get your hands on.
- If possible, take photos and videos of the scene of the accident in the condition it was when the accident happened.
- Gather contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident.
- Save all medical records, insurance statements, and other documentation you receive about your injuries.
- Download or take screenshots of any digital/social media others send or post about your accident (remember, you should not do any posting of your own).
- Hang on to empty bottles of prescription medication related to your injury.
- Save the clothes you were wearing when the accident happened, even if they’re dirty, bloody, or torn up.
- Wait to fix your car/motorcycle/bicycle/boat/appliance/etc. that was damaged or otherwise involved in the accident until a skilled attorney can inspect it.
In short, think of yourself as the widest part of a funnel of evidence. Your goal is to gather or save as much evidence as possible so that a skilled San Diego personal injury attorney can sift through it to find the gems of evidence that will prove your case.
Contact an Experienced San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Right Away
We’ve already given you a lot of tips and you may be thinking, I can’t do all of that on my own. That’s true. Most people could use a little (and more likely, a lot of) help after getting hurt in a San Diego-area accident. You almost certainly can’t take all of the essential actions to protect your rights by yourself.
That’s why you should contact an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer immediately after you get hurt in any accident that wasn’t, or might not have been, entirely your fault. A personal injury attorney serves as your advocate, ally, and assistant in managing your life and enforcing your legal rights after an accident. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the better your chances of securing maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.
An experienced San Diego accident injury attorney can:
- Take immediate steps to collect and preserve evidence critical to proving your claim;
- Take immediate action to meet the deadline to secure your legal rights;
- Investigate your accident to identify all parties at fault and all financial resources potentially available to pay you damages;
- Take over all communications with insurance companies;
- Evaluate your injuries and losses, past, present, and future, to calculate the amount of money you deserve to receive;
- Conduct settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster or defense lawyer, and advise you on whether to accept or reject settlement offers;
- Appear on your behalf in court proceedings, including hearings and trials; and
- Collect money due to you from a settlement, judgment, or jury award.
Worried about the cost of all those services? Don’t be. Skilled San Diego personal injury lawyers almost always represent their clients on a contingency fee basis. That means they only get paid a fee if they recover money on your behalf. You don’t have to pay a dime upfront or as a case goes along.
Don’t Wait to Contact a Skilled San Diego Accident Injury Attorney
Following the steps above can help to preserve and protect your health, wellbeing, and legal rights. If you act quickly, you may have the ability to receive significant amounts of financial compensation to help you pay your bills, heal, and return to your normal routine.
For a free consultation to learn more about your rights and options after getting hurt in an accident, contact an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer today.