Being in an auto accident is a traumatic experience in and of itself. Unfortunately, the weeks and months following a serious injury in a car wreck can also be a daunting experience, particularly if this is your first auto collision and you are unfamiliar with the process. There are so many things to check off your list, including filling out documents, reserving a rental car, going to medical appointments, contacting your insurance company, etc. All of this can be extremely overwhelming.
Below is a step-by-step guide to follow if you were recently in a car wreck. However, regardless of how competent you are when it comes to handling situations like this, it is still vital that you work with an attorney. If you live in California, the experienced Glendale car accident lawyers at Ourfalian & Ourfalian know how to handle your personal injury claim and fight to recover the most compensation on your behalf.
Immediate Steps While You Are at the Scene of the Accident
Obviously, there is no way to go back in time and re-do any of the following steps at the scene of the crash. However, it is good to have this knowledge if you, or a loved one, should find yourself in this situation again. Allstate recommends taking the following immediate steps if you are involved in a collision.
- Quickly check yourself for injuries. Call 911 if you are seriously injured.
- Check any passengers or other parties for serious injuries. Call 911 now if necessary.
- Move to a safe place. If it is possible(without putting yourself in harm’s way) to move your car to the side of the road, do this now. Turn off your vehicle and turn the hazard lights on if you can. If it is not possible to move your vehicle, leave your car where it is and get off the road—the sidewalk or the soft shoulder of the road, away from traffic.
- Call 911 to report the crash.
- Exchange information with the other driver. Information that needs to be exchanged includes: full name, driver’s license, license plate number, make and model of the vehicle (and color), contact information, insurance company, policy number, and location of the crash. If you do not have anything to write with, you can use your phone to make notes and take pictures of the other party’s documents. In fact, it is best to take a photo of the other driver’s license plate right away, in case they decide to flee the scene.
- Gather evidence. This is the most important step to take when it comes to filing a personal injury claim with the other party’s insurance company. This evidence will be used to prove fault and ensure that the police accident report is correct. Evidence you should gather includes:
- Give your statement about how the crash occurred.
- Name and badge number of all responding police officers. Ask for a copy of the report, and how to obtain it, when it is finished (this could take a few days or weeks).
- Photograph the entire scene: your vehicle, the other party’s vehicle, skid marks, debris from vehicles, any pertinent road signage, and all angles of the scene/road.
- Talk to witnesses and ask for their contact information.
- Call your insurance company. You may wish to do this at a later time, however.
Seek Medical Treatment
It is critical that you go to the hospital, urgent care clinic, or follow up with your primary care physician as soon as possible following a crash. Not only does this serve as evidence that you were actually injured, but the sooner your injuries can be diagnosed and treated, the better off your health outcome will be. Delaying treatment because it seems like a waste of money or time, is never a good idea.
For example, if you delay treating a suspected broken collar bone and simply purchase a sling to wear, the bone may be set incorrectly if surgery was required. Or, if you suffered a concussion and never got diagnosed, you are jeopardizing your health by going to work the next day when you should have taken the rest of the week off, avoiding screens and bright lights. In a tragic example, a car wreck victim may brush off a concussion as ‘just a slight headache’ and then go home to sleep it off, never to wake up again.
By getting medical treatment, you ensure that your long-term health and well-being are protected and that a trail of evidence is created that documents the extent of your injuries. This is critical to your pursuit of seeking compensation for your damages. It is not just medical treatment, but also pain and suffering, lost wages, lost earning ability, loss of joy of life, emotional distress, and more that can be included in your claim.
Notify Your Insurance Company
In the hours or days that follow a crash, you should contact your auto insurance company about the crash. They will likely ask you questions about how it occurred, who was involved, damage to your vehicle, injuries, and more.
Do Not Talk to or Reach Out to the Other Party
In the days and weeks that follow the crash, it is vital that you do not contact the other party. If the other party contacts you, or their insurance company calls you, it is in your best interest to politely decline from speaking with them and hang up. Anything you say could be used against you to diminish your personal injury claim. Furthermore, refrain from posting or talking about your crash on social media.
Contact and Meet With an Attorney
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in California is two years. But that does not mean you should wait that long. In fact, the sooner you find an attorney, the better off your chances become at winning the personal injury claim. Your attorney should be willing to meet you at the hospital if you are currently hospitalized.
Reach Out to a Glendale Auto Accident Attorney Today
If you were injured in a traffic collision, we urge you to seek legal representation. The only way that the other party’s insurance company will take you seriously is if you work with an attorney. For a free consultation, do not hesitate to call our Glendale auto accident attorneys at Ourfalian & Ourfalian today at (818) 550-7777.