No one gets up in the morning and says to himself, “I hope I will get hurt in a car accident today.” But, considering that an average number of car accidents in the United States per year is 6 million, and that annually approximately 3 million people get injured in car accidents, being prepared just in case you get into or get hurt a car accident very important.
Unfortunately, an average person does not know all of his rights and obligations in case he or she is in a car accident. Further, insurance companies are often not forthcoming about what an injured party needs to do to get a fair recovery for your damaged vehicle and your injuries, leaving you to pick up the pieces.
Here are some basic steps that you need to take if you ever find yourself in a car accident.
If you feel that the other driver negligently caused the collision do not confront the other driver, it is not going to help. Chances are the other driver did not mean to cause the collision and did not mean to cause you harm. Confronting the other drive will not move the ball forward, it is not productive and even might work against you during processing of the insurance claim or during litigation.
The best thing to do is to keep calm and catch your breath. Remember, both of you have just been in a car accident, it is nerve-racking and stressful for all the parties involved.
This accomplishes two things, first it protects you from being harmed by other drivers who may be driving inattentively; second, it prevents traffic congestion allowing other drivers to safely pass.
If it is not safe to move your vehicle, turn off your vehicle, but turn on the hazard lights in your vehicle to warn the other drivers that your vehicle is not movable.
Remember to check your surroundings before getting out of the vehicle. Other drivers who share the road with you may not be aware of what had just occurred. Only get out when it is safe to do so.
If your injuries or physical disabilities do not allow you to exit your vehicle, remain in the vehicle with the vehicle hazard lights on and follow the next step on this list.
Calling emergency personnel is very important. It accomplishes several things: it records that there you were involved in a car accident, it will get emergency personnel to come out to the scene of the collision to treat you for your injuries.
A local police department or California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer will arrive on the scene of the collision. That officer will take necessary information from all the involved parties in the collision and subsequently prepare a Police Report describing in detail, when the car accident happened, where it happened, which vehicles were involved, what kind of damage the vehicles sustained, it will describe statements of the parties, indicate whether or not the vehicles are insured and assign fault to the at fault party. It is very important to request that an officer prepare this report. Insurance companies use these reports to determine liability, that is, they determine who is at fault for the car accident.
Generally, the traffic collision report will be ready within 10 business days at no cost to the involved parties. CHP will make the face page of the traffic collision report (the page listing parties, vehicles, insurance information) available for pick up the following business day. If the collision involved major injuries or a fatality, the traffic collision report may take longer to complete.
If the car accident is not major and no one involved in the collision sustained major injuries requiring medical transport, an officer may not come out to the scene and will instruct you to simply exchange information with the other driver’s involved. This does happen, but it does not diminish the value of your case. Follow the instructions of the officer and exchange personal and insurance information with the other driver.
Write down as much information as possible:
Do not wait until your physical condition deteriorates. After the collision, shock sets in and adrenaline is pumping through the body. You may feel like you are fine, but because of the shock and adrenaline you may you may be bleeding internally without knowing it. Getting medical treatment is important because insurance companies need proof that you are hurt, and general those who are hurt tend to seek medical treatment.
Go the closes Emergency Room. Medical professionals are trained to identify and treat traumatic injuries. They will perform a physical examination and perform medical imaging to rule out life threatening injuries. However, if you injuries require immediate intervention you may be admitted for further evaluation and treatment.
The insurance companies always want you to report the collision to them before you contact an attorney; however, contacting a personal injury attorney before you make a claim is the right course of action. Remember, insurance companies do not make money by paying out claims.
If you decide to report the claim to the insurance company first, they will require you give a recorded statement about the collision. However, memories fade, you may misremember the course of events, or not mention all the injuries you sustained, etc. Insurance companies may use the information you give their agents to minimize your injury resulting in lower compensation for your injuries and damages.
It is critical that you call a professional attorney who knows how to deal with insurance adjusters. By contacting an attorney, you are effectively laying all your burden and stress on that attorney and his staff who will be responsible for all aspects of your personal injury claim. It makes it easier for you and gives you only one individual to call if you have any questions.
You attorney will guide you through this process and advise you on the best course of action. Your attorney will be able to obtain the traffic collision report, all the necessary medical records and deal with the insurance adjuster to get you fair compensation for your injuries, you pain and your suffering.
Remember, you do not have to pay us anything to take your case. We get paid only when we win your case.
It is very important to choose a qualified personal injury law office to investigate precisely who was at fault and gather solid evidence to prove negligence. If you have been involved in a car collision and you believe a mechanical malfunction in another driver’s car may have been the cause, you should communicate with our Sacramento car accident lawyer as soon as possible who will work hard to build a case so you may receive the compensation you deserve. Give us a call at (916) 306-0636.
The Choyce Law Firm has years of legal experience handling tough settlement claims with frustrating insurance companies. Give us a call at (916) 306-0636 to speak to a Sacramento car accident lawyer who can handle your case and take the burden off your hands.