You take your personal safety seriously. You are especially careful when on the road. You keep your vehicle in good running order to minimize the risk of a sudden catastrophic failure. When driving, you follow the rules of the road and practice patience and courtesy toward others.
Unfortunately, this is not always enough. There are people on the road who believe the rules don’t apply to them. And if you have been injured in a car accident caused by one of them, you do have legal options.
What to do After a Car Accident
A car accident is a violent and rattling event. It will take you a few moments to regain your senses and figure out what happened. Once you have, you should take the following actions:
1. Remain at the scene
You must remain at the scene until the police show up, take your statement, and tell you it is okay to leave. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. If you are convicted of it, you can be fined and jailed.
2. Verify injuries
You want to check for broken bones and bleeding—both yourself and others. A sudden and violent impact can cause shock, which may leave you numb to pain. But just because you are not in agonizing pain, it doesn’t mean that you have not been gravely injured.
3. Call emergency services
You must then call 911. The operator will ask you a series of questions, which you should answer as clearly and thoroughly as you can. You need not worry about holding up the ambulance. The operator will send emergency vehicles to your location soon after taking the call.
4. Exchange information with the other driver
You should exchange personal contact and insurance information with the other driver. Be sure to get their license plate number as well. Do not admit fault for the accident. Even if you know that they caused the accident, you need not bring it up. Keep your own counsel and you will keep the peace.
5. Speak with eyewitnesses
If you are up to it, you should speak to people who witnessed the accident—especially those who are eager to talk. Try to get an idea of what they saw. And get their contact details before departing.
6. Take pictures
You will probably have your cell phone with you. Use it to take pictures of the damage done to your vehicle.
7. Go to the hospital
You should go to the hospital for a thorough examination. It doesn’t matter how you feel at the time of the accident. Only a physician can verify that you have not been seriously injured. If you were badly hurt in the accident, you should take photographs of the affected areas before they are treated.
8. Document everything
Write down everything said to you by the doctor. You should get a copy of their examination results and treatment regimen before you leave the hospital. You should also start jotting down what you recall of the accident.
9. Call a lawyer
As you recover, you should start thinking about the future. Your first move should be to contact a car accident personal injury lawyer. You should do this before you report the accident to your insurance company. The latter will have its own financial interests in mind; it is vital that you protect yours.
Why You Need a Lawyer
You need someone who will be an advocate for your financial interests. Car accidents disrupt lives and cost money. You need a lawyer to ensure that you get what you deserve.
During the initial consultation, your lawyer will ask you to recall the events leading to the accident. You should tell them what you can; use your notes if you must. It is important to get this part right, as your recollection of the accident will form the basis of the legal strategy developed by your car accident personal injury lawyer.
If it is found that the other driver was responsible for the accident, their insurance company will have to pay. The latter may initially offer you a low-dollar settlement. You should make no commitments until your attorney has had a chance to review the offer. Indeed, you should leave all communications with the insurance company to your lawyer. This is the best way to avoid doing or saying anything that could undermine your position.
If the settlement covers your medical bills and lost wages and gives you fair compensation for the trauma you have suffered, then your auto injury lawyer may advise you to accept it. If your injuries are extensive and the settlement is not adequate to what you need, then your auto injury lawyer will press for more money. If the insurance company refuses, then you will need to sue.
The Impact of a Serious Car Accident
Being in a serious car accident can put you on your back for weeks or months. You may be forced to undergo a series of painful and invasive surgeries to make you healthy again. You will need to spend more months in recovery and physical rehabilitation. All the while the bills will continue to pile up and you will not be able to draw a wage large enough to cover them. If you suffer a permanent disability, you may lose your livelihood. Such a condition may also require you to make significant life changes. It may be necessary for you to buy equipment to help you move around, and you may need to hire someone to provide in-home care.
The financial strain caused by a car accident can put tremendous stress on your family. However, you need not shoulder the burden alone. The person whose recklessness caused the accident should pay through their insurance company.
What Your Lawyer Will Do
West Coast trial lawyers help ordinary people get the money they are entitled to. If the insurance company of the person who hit you is not willing to offer you a fair settlement, then your Los Angeles accident attorney will build up a case that will legally compel them to.
The first thing your attorney will do is reassess and re-evaluate the facts of the case. They will dig deeper into the circumstances that led to the accident. To do so, they will employ their own private investigators. The latter will re-interview eyewitness of the accident, a job that will be much easier to do if you have their personal contact details. Not everyone likes to speak to police officers, but the same people may be willing to talk to a private investigator. Such interviews may lead to new insights into how the accident took place. One of the witnesses may have caught the entire accident on their cell phone video, which can confirm your version of events.
Your Los Angeles accident attorney will also gather statements and testimony from medical experts and forensic scientists. The latter can use the latest methods and technology to demonstrate how the accident unfolded. The former can explain your injuries and the debilitating effect they have had on your ability to work.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you need legal representation. Contacting West Coast trial lawyers can help you sort through your options.