It’s happened to the best of us. You’re riding along in traffic and all of a sudden you feel a jolt. Whether you just rear-ended someone or they sideswiped you, you instantly know what the entire course of your day or even week has just changed. But now that you’ve overcome the initial shock, what do you do? Who do you call? What questions should you ask?
These are the concerns that plague even the most experienced drivers. Sure accidents happen every day, but not to you. The best way to handle an accident is to do it before it even happens. And that means you should be prepared with a checklist of things you need to do in the event of a car accident. If you want to be prepared in case of an emergency or have recently been involved in a car accident, here’s what you should keep in mind.
While most accidents tend to be simple fender benders, others may result in injuries that are serious. Regardless of how minor an accident seems, you need to be aware of everyone’s physical condition. If someone is hurt, don’t attempt to move them.
If no one has been injured then it’s important that you move your vehicles to safety so that it doesn’t impede traffic or cause another accident. Pull to the side of the road. If the accident occurs at night, turn on your emergency lights.
Call for Help
Most people assume that if the accident didn’t cause any damage to the vehicles then you don’t have to get the police involved. However, this is not the case. In fact, if you leave without calling for help, you could be cited for leaving the scene of an accident.
So save yourself the trouble and stress by calling the local police or highway patrol. Make sure that you have your license, registration, and proof of insurance ready for when they arrive. Once the officer shows up, you can request his or her name and badge number for your own personal records. Also, make sure that you ask for a copy of the police report as you’ll need this for insurance purposes.
Before leaving the scene of the accident, you should always exchange information with the other drivers. Get the names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s licenses, license plates, and insurance company from all involved parties. Write down the color, make, and model of the car. Find out whether or not the driver is the owner of the vehicle. If a bystander witnessed the accident, take down their contact information as well.
It’s not uncommon for drivers to discuss the details of the accident while they wait for assistance. And in many cases, the discussion may turn into a heated dispute or argument if both parties feel as if the other is at fault. However, this behavior should be avoided.
Keep in mind that emotions can run high after an accident. You may say something that could work against you later. This is especially the case if you admit that you’re responsible for the accident. It’s a good idea to assume that everything you say to the other drivers and witnesses could be later used in court. Also, remember that it’s not your job to decide the outcome of the case. So keep the conversation very light and avoid discussing the accident if possible.
Everyone has a cellphone these days. And luckily, most are equipped with cameras. Use this feature to your advantage and take pictures of the accident. Take a photo of every vehicle involved in the accident and from every angle. Make sure that you capture the damage. Take images of the road. Perhaps there are skid marks or the conditions of the road are particularly hazardous that day.
Take pictures of the area you’re in. Capture street signs so that you can remember your location. You may also take photos of the other person’s license plate and their driver’s license for a backup copy. Some insurance companies offer apps that will help you submit these photos so that you don’t have to wait on an adjuster to assess the damage.
After the accident, you may find that you remember less and less about it as time progresses. And that’s why it’s so important that you write out the details of what happened as soon as you can, while everything is still fresh in your mind. The more you can recall, the better.
Record the date and time. Make note of the weather. Describe the conditions of the road. Did the accident occur at a particularly dangerous location? What were the other drivers doing? Even if you don’t have access to a pen and paper, you could always make a voice note on your phone. This is the information that you’ll provide to your insurance company and Los Angeles car accident lawyer.
Call Your Insurance Company
A lot of people assume that if they’re not at fault they don’t need to contact their insurance company. However, this is a myth. Whether you’re at fault or not, it’s very important that you call and report the accident to your insurance company. If you fail to report the accident, you may forfeit compensation.
There’s also a chance that the other driver’s insurance company will contact you–even if the other driver is at fault. When speaking with the company, you need to be very careful about what information you share with them. In fact, if you or someone else was injured in the accident your car accident lawyer may advise you to not speak with them at all.
Seek Medical Attention
Another common myth is that there’s no need to visit the emergency room if you feel fine after an accident. This is far from the truth. Even if you feel great after an accident, you should still seek medical attention. Many people don’t realize that they’ve been injured until days or even weeks after. And if your injury is not properly documented it could result in your not being properly compensated.
Secure Legal Representation
It’s a good idea to find a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. Accident cases can be long, tedious and frustrating. This is especially true if your case has to go to court. West Coast trial lawyers understand how this process works and can ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. They also work to make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve.
Unfortunately, car accidents are commonplace. So it’s important that you know what questions to ask and how to document everything afterward. By keeping excellent records and a detailed account of what occurred on that day you can ensure that the process is relatively quick and easy.
The key is to work with a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles who has the proper amount of experience and knowledge. If you’ve recently been involved in an accident or would like to know more about what you should prepare for then contact West Coast Trial Lawyers for additional information.