While it is possible to be involved in many types of accidents, car accidents are common for many people. When these occur, you may not only be seriously injured, but also confused and scared about what comes next. Whether this involves dealing with police and insurance companies, being off from work for a long period of time, or enduring one medical procedure after another, these factors all contribute to the decision of many victims to contact a good car accident attorney regarding the filing of a personal injury lawsuit. Yet before doing so, there are steps you should take while at the accident scene and afterwards. Rather than be confused as to what to do or not do, here are some important tips you should always remember should you find yourself facing this situation.
When to Contact An Attorney After A Car Accident
Always Stay at the Accident Scene
Once you are involved in a car accident, always make sure you keep your wits about you and stay at the scene. This will be important, since police will need to speak with you about what happened. Unfortunately, many car accident victims panic and either leave the scene before they have been given permission by police to do so, or in extreme cases fail to stop altogether. If either of these situations happen, police may charge you with leaving an accident scene, which can be a felony with serious ramifications.
Get Medical Treatment
When rescue personnel arrive at the accident scene, always make sure you let them examine you and treat any injuries you may have sustained. Since your adrenaline may be running quite strong due to stress, you may initially think you are not injured. However, in almost all car accidents those involved suffer head, neck, or back injuries that sometimes may not be immediately obvious. Therefore, always let paramedics assess and treat your injuries, and also allow yourself to be taken by ambulance to a hospital for a more in-depth examination by doctors. By doing so, your injuries will be immediately treated and documented in your medical records. This will be important to your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, since having your injuries documented will make it difficult for insurance companies to claim you were not injured in the accident.
Call Police to the Scene
Along with making sure you get medical treatment at the accident scene, also call police to the scene as well. When they arrive, they can not only make the accident scene safer, but also assess the situation and begin to make a preliminary evaluation as to who was at fault for the accident. Once they do, they will complete an accident report, which will be very important to your car accident attorney. Should police determine the other driver was responsible for the accident, your attorney can use the police report to develop a legal strategy that may force the other driver’s attorney and insurance company to agree to a financial settlement that will give you the compensation you need and deserve.
Obtain Contact Information
Before you exit the accident scene, always make sure you are able to get contact information from the other driver and any passengers who were also involved in the accident. When seeking this information, obtain names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, insurance information, driver’s license numbers, and makes and models of any vehicles damaged in the accident. By having this information, your attorney will be able to contact these individuals should additional information be needed about the accident.
Speak to Witnesses
Along with talking to other drivers and passengers, also speak to anyone at the scene who witnessed the accident. By getting the accounts of witnesses, your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer will gain critical insight into what may have happened to cause the accident. However, to make sure any witnesses to whom you speak do not change their stories or dispute your account of their statement, use your smartphone to make a video recording of your conversation. By doing so and giving this evidence to your attorney, it will be impossible for any witnesses to change their stories and potentially damage your personal injury lawsuit.
Take Photos of the Accident Scene
While you should use your smartphone to record any conversations you have with witnesses, also use your phone to take photos of the accident scene. To begin with, focus on damage to vehicles involved in the accident and any property that was also damaged. Along with this, take pictures of visible injuries such as lacerations sustained by yourself or others, as well as traffic lights and stop signs that may have been located near the accident. Finally, if there are any skid marks in the road photograph these as well, since they may indicate speed or reckless driving played a factor in the crash. In these situations, it is always better to take more photos than you need, since this will be your one and only chance to photograph the scene as it originally appears.
Never Admit Fault for the Accident
When you are talking to police or others at the accident scene, be careful you do not say anything that sounds as though you are admitting fault for the accident. If you say something such as “I’m sorry” in the course of a conversation with police, it will probably wind up in the accident report with the officer’s opinion that you admitted the accident was your fault. While you may think you are only trying to be polite and courteous, you may be severely damaging your chances of winning your personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, use good judgment and say as little as possible until you can speak to an experienced car accident attorney. Once you do, they will suggest you let them handle any conversations with insurance companies, police, or others.
Stay Off Social Media Accounts
If you are active on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, your attorney will likely advise you to do as little as possible online until your lawsuit is resolved. When many of these situations occur, car accident victims go online and post angry and derogatory comments about the other driver or passengers, and may also post photos of themselves that may actually hurt their case. For example, should you post a photo of yourself appearing to be taking part in your normal activities, the other driver’s attorney and insurance company will have evidence they can use against you to claim you were not seriously injured. Remember that if you are online, there is a good chance your activity is being closely monitored by attorneys, insurance companies, and maybe even private investigators.
Due to the various complexities involved with car accident cases, it is never a good idea to choose an attorney that has little or no experience handling these cases. Therefore, it is always best to contact West Coast Trial Lawyers for additional information about your legal options. Once you do, you can discuss your accident in greater detail with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who has experience handling these cases. Since you will need significant compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, always work with a lawyer who has a proven track record of success in these cases.