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While most of us get behind the wheel without considering the prospect of a serious automobile accident, statistically, your chances of being involved in a car accident in your lifetime are relatively high. Do you know what to do if you’re involved in a car accident with injuries? How do you react? How do you deal with the other driver, emergency personnel, or considering a personal injury claim?
Read on for more information, and for answers to your legal questions, contact an experienced California car accident attorney.
After a car accident, particularly one occurring in heavy traffic congestion, it is important for both the flow of traffic, as well as your safety and the safety of others, to move your car to the side of the road, if possible. The reason for this is to avoid the wreckage being hit by other vehicles as well as to allow traffic to move around the accident. Turn on your hazard lights to warn approaching drivers of the accident. If you have traffic cones, triangles, or flares available, place those out, particularly at night when visibility is low, or if the accident occurred around a sharp corner where approaching traffic may not be able to see it from a distance.
Depending of the type of car accident the scene of the accident can be a chaotic and dangerous place to be. Plus, getting into an accident means being late to, or altogether missing, the appointment or errand you were on your way to before the accident happened. All of that being said, there are many reasons why you need to stay on the scene of an injury accident, such as:
Photos are important as evidence of what took place, where, and how. If it is possible and doesn’t place you at risk of being injured or causing an additional traffic accident, some of the photos you should take include all four sides of each vehicle, showing any damage that occurred. Photos should also give a glimpse as to the weather and traffic conditions at the time of your accident, as well as the location in which the accident occurred. Any visible injuries to yourself or your passengers should also be taken, as well as any accident debris and skid marks on the roadway.
If it is not possible to take photos at the scene, you should write down information about the scene, including describing the damage to both cars, the weather, the location, time of day, and traffic conditions when the accident occurred.
After an accident, emotions run high and it is not unusual for parties involved in the accident to discuss—or even argue about—how the accident occurred or who was at fault. It is important not to do this, however, as it could be construed as a statement of fault by you to the other driver and witnesses, and could be turned against you when it comes time to pursue compensation for your injuries.
When police arrive on the scene and begin asking questions, it is important that you answer those questions honestly and to the best of your ability. Do provide your contact information to the police when asked. However, avoid discussing fault in the accident while talking to other accident victims or witnesses, and do not apologize for the accident (even if you are just being polite!).
Similarly, you should avoid talking about the accident in social media posts, as this too can be construed as a statement, and social media content can be later used against you.
It is important when involved in a serious accident to have a medical examination, even if you don’t “feel” hurt. Whether caused by an adrenaline rush after the accident, shock, or other reasons, many injuries that one can receive in an accident don’t present symptoms until hours or even days after they occur. The list of injuries that may present with delayed symptoms include brain injuries, soft-tissue neck injuries, and internal bleeding or damage to the internal organs. A thorough medical examination is your best chance of catching and treating these injuries before they become worse.
While you, the other driver, or a witness likely called 911 at the time of the accident, you will still need to ensure that the police who respond are filing the report. The police report following an accident is an extremely important piece of evidence, and will likely play a vital role should you find yourself on either end of a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim.
Police reports provide a crucial piece of evidence if there becomes a disagreement over who is at fault for the accident. Additionally, they are used to document the scene, including the time of day, the amount of traffic, and any other factors that may have contributed to the crash.
Not sure as to who was at fault? Worried that reporting the accident will increase your rates? You still should notify your insurance company any time you’ve been in an accident. Why? Because the contract you signed when you obtained your policy likely states that you are required to report all accidents, generally within 24 hours. If you fail to do this, you may nullify the contract and find yourself on the hook for damages to property and injuries to people if your own actions were to blame.
One thing to remember when speaking to your insurance company, however: Even though you have a policy with them, they are not necessarily in the business to represent your interests in the accident. They’re in business to make money. Part of the way that insurance companies make money is by finding ways to avoid paying claims, and they have their own attorneys to help them do this. If there were injuries to other parties, if you were injured, and/ or if you may have been at fault in any way, then you are likely best served by speaking to an attorney who can represent you, not your insurance company.
A personal injury lawyer who is experienced in car accident cases is likely your best option if you or your passengers have suffered injuries. A car accident attorney can help you in the following ways:
If you or your passenger were injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver, or another party. If you talk about your case with a car accident lawyer, you can understand how to best respond after a car accident.
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