Car accidents are a common cause of serious injuries and deaths in California. Nothing can adequately prepare you for a car accident. You may be dealing with painful injuries and confusion about your legal rights. Learning what steps you should take as a car accident victim, however, can make it easier to move forward and protect your rights.
Ensure Your Safety
Put your well-being first as a car accident victim. Pull over at the scene of the crash and check yourself for signs of injury, such as pain, bleeding or swelling. Keep in mind that you may not notice pain from an injury immediately due to adrenaline from the accident. Next, check your passengers to see if they are injured. When it is safe to do so, exit your vehicle to see if anyone in the other car was hurt.
Get Medical Care
Do not delay in seeking medical care for any injuries. Going to a doctor or hospital is a crucial step in the aftermath of a car accident for your physical health and safety. It is also a requirement most car insurance companies make before they will accept a claim that is seeking compensation to cover medical bills and lost wages connected to an injury.
Report the Crash
Call 911 using a cell phone while you are still at the scene of the automobile accident. California law requires drivers to report car accidents that involve injuries, deaths or more than $1,000 in property damage. Reporting even minor accidents can help you, however, by generating a police accident report that you can use for your car insurance claim.
Exchange Information With the Other Driver
Under state law, you are required to remain at the scene of a car accident until you have fulfilled all of your driver responsibilities. This includes exchanging information with the other driver: your name, phone number and insurance information. You should also write down a description of the other driver’s vehicle and its license plate numbers. If there were any witnesses, write down their information, as well.
Document the Car Accident
Take pictures of the accident scene with a camera or cell phone. Be sure to capture property damage to any vehicles, markings in the road, license plates, street signs and the area as a whole. Look around to see if any traffic or surveillance cameras might have caught your crash on tape. If so, the police can help you obtain this footage.
Be Careful What You Say
While you may be tempted to talk about your car accident with friends, family or on social media, it is important to refrain from doing so until your insurance claim is resolved. Be careful what you say to others, as your words could be twisted around and used against you by an insurance company. Do not admit fault or apologize to the other driver and do not discuss your injuries with an insurance claims adjuster until you have seen a doctor.
Contact an Orange County Car Accident Attorney
Consult with the car accident attorney in California for legal advice about how to file a claim and pursue just compensation for your losses. Your Orange County car accident attorney can provide trustworthy counsel regarding the car insurance claims process or filing a personal injury lawsuit. An Orange County personal injury lawyer will explain your legal options and help you choose the one best suited for your unique case and goals. If you were recently involved in a car accident, contact Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian for guidance about what to do next.