With thousands of vehicles on the roads at any given moment, it is possible you could find yourself involved in a car accident. Since you have no control over the actions of other drivers, you may find yourself in an accident with a driver who was distracted, driving under the influence of alcohol, or was ignoring the speed limit on a highway. Whatever the case may be, once the accident occurs you should know what to do and say at the scene and afterwards. If you don’t, there is a good chance you will make a mistake along the way that can cost you significant compensation. If you are wondering when you should contact an attorney after your car accident and what you should do once the accident takes place, here are some key details to always remember.
Never Leave the Scene Prematurely
Once you are at an accident scene, never leave prematurely. When involved in an accident, you will need to speak with police while they conduct the accident investigation. Therefore, never leave until you have done so and been given permission by them to leave. Also, should you have a car accident, never panic and choose to not stop at the scene. If you do, police may charge you with hit and run.
When a car accident takes place, always call police to the scene as quickly as possible. When you do, this will also ensure paramedics and firefighters will also arrive, leading to the scene being made much more secure and safe. Once these first responders arrive, you will be able to get treatment for your injuries and speak to police about what happened. Once you do, police will complete a report where they place initial blame for the accident. Should blame be directed at the other driver, your personal injury attorney can use this report as leverage when negotiating with the other driver’s legal team and insurance company to reach an out-of-court settlement.
Always Get Medical Treatment
If there is one thing the best car accident lawyer will tell you regarding these situations, it is to always get medical treatment at the scene and afterwards. If you don’t, you severely decrease the chances of gaining compensation for the accident, since the other driver’s attorney and insurance company will be able to claim you were not injured in the accident. Therefore, even if you are unsure if you are seriously injured, always allow paramedics to assess your condition at the scene and administer appropriate treatment. Along with this, also allow yourself to be transported to a hospital for additional treatment. By doing so, doctors can conduct an extensive examination and provide treatment, all of which will be immediately documented in your medical records. Once this is done, it will be much harder for the other driver’s lawyer and insurance company to claim you suffered no injuries in the accident.
Speak to Witnesses
If there were witnesses to the accident, always make sure you speak to them before everyone leaves the accident scene. Along with getting the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses, also write down or use your smartphone to make a video recording of their statements. Once you do, you should immediately turn over these statements to your personal injury attorney. Once your lawyer has these statements, they can compare what was said by witnesses with information contained in the police report. Should your attorney have additional questions, they can speak to the witnesses, as well as consult with experienced accident reconstruction experts to determine what really happened.
While you are at the accident scene, always try to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim the other driver was responsible for the accident. One of the best ways to do so is by using your smartphone to take photos of the accident scene, which should always include visible damage sustained by all vehicles involved in the crash. Along with this, also take pictures of such injuries as lacerations or bruises, personal property that was damaged, and such things as skid marks on the road or stop signs that may have been ignored by the other driver. In these situations, always take as many photos as you can, since this will be your one and only chance to photograph the scene as it originally stands. Upon getting your photos or videos, turn them over to your experienced car accident lawyer for further evaluation.
Be Careful with Your Words
Even though you will need to speak with police at the accident scene, that does not mean you have to go overboard with your comments. While you should of course be truthful about what happened, you should also be careful what you say to police or others. In fact, always be aware of what you say at the scene, and never say anything such as “I’m sorry” at any point while at the scene. If you do, you may find these words being used against you by the other driver’s lawyer or insurance company. Should you say something that sounds as though you may have been responsible for causing the accident, police will put this in their accident report, making it much more difficult for your attorney to prove you were the victim rather than the cause of the accident.
Be Wary of Insurance Companies
When you are involved in a car accident, the other driver’s insurance company will probably contact you following the accident to learn more about the accident or perhaps even offer you a financial settlement. Should either of these things occur, be very wary. While it may appear as if the insurance company wants to help you, it is doing anything but that. If the company wants to speak with you, its main goal is to find something it can use against you. Likewise, should a financial settlement be offered, chances are it will barely be enough to cover medical bills, much less lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering from the accident. Therefore, should you be contacted by an insurance company, never speak to them or accept financial settlements until you have spoken to your personal injury attorney.
Exchange Information with Other Drivers
At the scene, exchange information with other drivers involved in the accident. This should always include names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, insurance information, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, and makes and models of vehicles involved in the accident. By having this information, you and your attorney will be able to contact other drivers should additional information need to be obtained.
Because your emotions will be running high when you are involved in a car accident, always try to stay as calm as possible and use good judgment along the way. Since these cases are always complex, it is best to contact West Coast Trial Lawyers for additional information as to how to proceed when filing a personal injury lawsuit. Since you will need the best car accident lawyer in your area to help win these complex cases, schedule a consultation as soon as possible to discuss your case in greater detail.