1. Call the Police
I really don’t know what compels people to decide that they don’t need police on the scene of a car accident. Particularly if the facts are on your side and you know that the other person is liable for the accident, a police report will go a long way in preventing fraud and helping you out with settlement negotiations with the insurance company or at trial.
2. Get Witness Statements!!!
I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve asked clients if there were witnesses on the scene. Sometimes, I am told yes there were. When asked about the names and contact information of these potential witnesses, I mostly get blank stares in response.
At the scene of the accident, there will oftentimes be one or more neutral witnesses who can help establish that you are not liable for the accident. Without being too pushy, there is nothing wrong with politely asking them if they would like to help you out by providing their name and number for future reference just in case you need their assistance. Most people will say yes.
While the facts of the incident are still fresh in their minds, your lawyer can contact them and encourage them to provide a written statement, which will greatly benefit you down the road.
3. Take Photos
There’s no excuse for anyone not to do this. Most of us have cell phones with cameras and this should be no problem unless you are seriously injured. Someone at the scene should do this on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Of course, using utmost caution is most important and supersedes taking of photos if it will endanger yourself or anyone else.
Important photos include that of your own car and the other driver’s car from several different angels – both close-ups and long views; pictures of the street, intersection, skid-marks, car parts in the street, etc.; and pictures of injuries you and/or your passengers have sustained if possible.
4. Contact a Lawyer Immediately
So many people irreparably damage their case when they start speaking to insurance company adjusters and others without legal representation. This includes your own insurance company representative or adjuster. Insurance adjusters are experts in getting you to give inadvertent admissions and twist the facts with very skillfully asked questions. Typically, settlement figures and damages awards are higher when accident victims have lawyer representation.
5. Listen to Your Doctor
So, you think you know more than your doctor? The man or woman who went to medical school for 10 years? I think not. When your doctor (or chiropractor, physical therapist or any other medical provider) tells you something, please listen to their expert advice and recommendations. This includes going to ALL of your scheduled appointments. Your financial settlement or recovery at trial is directly correlated to your medical bills and doctor’s documentation of your injuries. Let them know ALL of your injuries, pains, bruises, sleeplessness if that’s a problem, headaches, problems of daily living and carrying out work responsibilities, etc.
6. Don’t Tell the Other Driver or Anyone Else that the Accident is Your Fault
During an accident and its aftermath, there is often mass confusion and chaos ensuing. You may not be aware of all the facts of the incident since you may be injured, in a state of shock, or unaware of exactly what the other driver or drivers did or did not do to contribute to the accident.
Stating that you are at fault is not a wise move. You can simply explain to the police officer(s) the facts without resorting to admitting liability. This needs to be sorted out later. Refrain from unnecessary conversations with any other individuals.
7. Get Treated for Your Injuries
Do this right away. So many make the mistake of seeing a doctor many days or even weeks after their accident. Having a long gap between the date of incident and treatment will hurt your case in the end. Insurance Adjusters find you less credible and are suspicious about claimed injuries that are not attended to for a long time after the accident.
There are many other things one must do or refrain from doing in an accident case. It is highly recommended that you seek the services of a licensed Attorney to help you in case of such an incident.
This Blog post does not form an Attorney-Client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The opinion/commentary given is based upon generalized hypothetical facts or scenario. To the extent additional or different set of facts exist or the hypothetical or scenario presented herein is different, the opinion or commentary of the Attorney might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California and opinions are based solely on California law unless stated otherwise. For answers to specific legal questions, always consult with a licensed Attorney.