8 Legal Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Car accidents can range from minor fender benders to severe collisions causing significant damage or injury. Whether you’re an experienced driver or a novice on the road, it’s vital to understand the actions you need to take next. For instance, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t wait to hire a car accident lawyer. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss 8 essential legal steps to take after a car accident.
Know What To Do First
The immediate aftermath of a car accident can be chaotic and stressful, but your first priority must be everyone’s safety. Check for any injuries and call emergency services if necessary. Be careful moving people who’ve sustained back or neck injuries. If it’s safe to do so, move vehicles out of traffic to prevent further accidents.
Even if the incident seems minor, you should call the police to see if they’ll file an official report. Having law enforcement on the scene ensures an unbiased assessment of the accident. In turn, their report might be indispensable when negotiating with insurance companies.
Consult An Attorney
Perhaps your incident involves significant damage, injuries, or complexities in determining fault. For these reasons and more, consult with a car accident attorney as soon as possible. They can help you navigate the legalities and protect your rights at all times. They can negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you if the matter goes to court. An attorney can help you pursue fair compensation for damages (e.g. medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering).
You may have experienced a vehicle collision in a major Californian city. The website of a Beverly Hills car accident lawyer will often discuss the major causes, and the damages you can claim in a personal injury case. There may also be guidance on automobile insurance, employer liability and uninsured motorist arbitration. You can request a free initial consultation, and benefit from a ‘no win no fee’ policy.
Exchange Information With Other Parties
Before anyone leaves the accident scene, exchange personal and insurance information with all parties involved. This includes names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance details. Be courteous, but avoid unnecessary conversation about the accident’s cause or your feelings. Apologizing or admitting fault can inadvertently affect your legal standing.
If there are witnesses, consider gathering their contact information as well. Their perspective might prove invaluable later on. Before they forget all the details, ask them whether you can record an audible record of what happened. This could easily be achieved using the recording facility on your smartphone.
Document The Scene And Collect The Evidence
Documentation is key to supporting your case, whether it’s for an insurance claim or potential legal action. Take comprehensive photographs of the accident scene, including:
- vehicle positions and license numbers
- car damage and road debris
- road conditions (e.g. potholes, overhanging trees, loose gravel, poor lighting, ice or snow)
- traffic signs
- any injuries you have sustained (this will help your claim for pain, suffering or trauma)
Sketching the scene might also help you recall details later on. If necessary, your lawyer may call for an incident reconstruction. This may involve requesting expert witnesses who can make an independent assessment of events.
Seek Medical Attention
It’s common for adrenaline to mask injuries immediately following an accident. Two examples would be concussions or whiplash. For this reason, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible, whether you feel injured or not. Prompt medical care can ensure your well-being. At the same time, this will establish a record of any injuries related to the accident.
These medical records might be pivotal if you decide to pursue a personal injury claim. Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations in terms of medication and physical/emotional therapy. Also, keep a detailed record of all treatments, medications, and follow-up care. This will assist any later claim for financial compensation.
Notify Your Insurance Company
It’s essential to do this as soon as you physically can. Provide them with the details, including the police report, photographs, and other evidence. Be honest, but avoid making definitive statements (about fault or the extent of your injuries) without legal consultation. Your insurance company will guide you through their specific process. Remember, however, that they also have financial interests to protect.
If disputes arise with the other party’s insurance company, take legal advice. A lawyer can fight back if the company tries to reduce the payout, or avoid doing so altogether. You may be offered a lower sum, in return for an early resolution. Your attorney can advise you when it’s worth accepting or rejecting the settlement offer.
Keep All Documents And Records
You need to organize and retain all documentation related to the accident. This includes police reports, medical records, repair bills, communication with insurance companies, and any legal correspondence. This extensive record-keeping can facilitate a smoother claim process. It can also help you provide essential evidence if legal action becomes necessary.
Your lawyer will tell you what needs to be produced, and when. Consider keeping a diary of your recovery process, documenting physical and emotional challenges. This might be pertinent in a personal injury case where the other party is minimizing your injuries.
Avoid Discussing The Accident on Social Media
In our digital age, social media has become a platform where people share personal experiences. However, discussing your accident online can have unintended legal consequences. Comments or photos related to the accident could be misconstrued or used against you in legal proceedings.
Maintain privacy about the incident and confine discussions to your attorney, insurance company, and law enforcement. Also, don’t post photos of you at the gym or on vacation if you’re meant to be signed off work!
By following these 8 legal steps, you can protect your interests, preserve essential evidence, and pave the way for a fair resolution. Each accident is unique, which reinforces the need for professional legal assistance. By acting wisely and patiently, you’ll hopefully be compensated for your injuries. Thanks to a full physical recovery, you’ll be able to resume your life once more.