What Should I Do if I’ve Been in a Car Accident?
Most people will experience a serious car accident at most once in their lives. Car accidents are jarring, frightening, and dangerous. If you have been hurt in a crash, there are a few important steps to take to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights. Below, our experienced Southern California car accident injury attorneys discuss what you should do after a car crash.
Pull Over to a Safe Area
If you are able to do so, the first thing to do after a car crash is to get your car, or at least yourself, to a safe space. Pull over to the side of the road, or get out of your car and walk to the side of the road. If you are too hurt to move, stay put.
Check for Injuries
Check yourself, your passengers, other vehicles, and the surrounding area for injuries. If anyone is seriously hurt, call 911 immediately.
Exchange Information With Other Driver(s)
After any accident with another driver, exchange identifying information. Get their full name, phone number, address, insurance information (carrier, policy number, phone number), license plate number, vehicle identification number, and driver license number.
Call the Authorities
If anyone is injured in the accident, you must report it to the authorities. Call 911 if anyone is seriously hurt, and report the accident to the police even if there seems to be only minor injuries and property damage. Do not agree to the other driver’s offer to “keep the police out of it,” or “keep the insurance companies out of it.” The police report may become one of your key pieces of evidence, and you do not yet know how expensive your medical bills and other costs may be.
Get Medical Attention
If you are seriously injured, get to a hospital immediately. If an ambulance arrives, accept emergency medical care and take the ride.
If you are not critically injured, it is still important to get to a doctor as soon as you can after leaving the accident. You could have hidden injuries such as internal bleeding, organ damage, or a concussion, which can be hard to self-diagnose until after they cause additional damage. Moreover, if you wait to see a doctor, a defense attorney or insurance company might try to claim that your injuries arose after the accident in some other situation. The sooner you see a doctor, the weaker that argument becomes.
Gather Evidence at the Scene: Pictures, Witnesses
If you do not need emergency medical attention, try to gather as much information as you can before you leave the accident site. Take pictures of the vehicles, the damage, your injuries, the surrounding area (traffic lights, traffic cameras, the road or intersection, the weather, etc.), and anything else relevant. Get contact information for any witnesses who may be at the scene, including other drivers and pedestrians.
Keep Copies of All Evidence
Keep copies of any documents generated in connection with your accident. That includes statements from the insurance company, medical records, medical bills, police reports, and anything else that arises as a result of the crash. These documents will be invaluable in building your case.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer
The best way to maximize your potential recovery is to get a seasoned car accident lawyer on your side as soon as possible. The sooner your lawyer gets involved, the easier it will be to gather all available evidence and start building your case. Evidence may disappear over time, witnesses may forget what they saw, and claims have legal time limits.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car crash in Southern California, call a zealous and talented car crash attorney at the Halpern Law Firm. We fight for the compensation you and your family deserve. Contact us at (818) 785-5999 today. These cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t be charged any attorney’s fees unless we win.