If you have spent any time driving around Los Angeles and the surrounding area, you know all too well the amount of traffic that is on the road each and every day. While most days you are able to get around just fine, the fact is with so many drivers on the road day and night, chances are at some point you will be involved in a car accident. When this happens, it is of course something you did not expect to happen at any particular time. Yet while you may be stressing out and wondering what to do next, there are certain steps you should always take in these situations. By being prepared for these situations, you can make it much easier for yourself should you decide to pursue legal action against the other driver. To make sure you know the steps to take and how an auto injury lawyer can help you along the way, here are some very important details to keep in mind.
Always Stay at the Accident Scene
Whether your accident is relatively minor or extremely serious, always stay at the accident scene until it is okay for you to leave. In most cases, this will be after police, fire, and rescue personnel have arrived at the scene, secured the site from fires or other dangers, evaluated injuries, and spoken to everyone involved to determine how the accident occurred. If you leave the scene too soon or fail to stop altogether, police could charge you with hit and run. Therefore, stay on scene to avoid these charges, and to also give your account of the accident to officers. Since a police report will be filed with the officer’s assessment of who was at fault, your car accident personal injury lawyer can use this to your advantage when planning a legal strategy.
See if Anyone Else is Injured
If you can, try to assess if anyone else involved in the accident is injured, and to what extent. By doing so, you may be able to offer help until rescue personnel arrive, or at least try to make the scene safer until help is available. While this is the right thing to do as a caring human being, it will also help you look good in the eyes of the court, should you have the need to work with a Los Angeles accident attorney in filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Call Police to the Scene
If someone else has not already done so, call police to the scene as quickly as possible. By doing so, you will not only have help for you and others who may be injured, but you will also have an officer there to make an assessment as to who was at fault for the accident. Along with getting a copy of this report for your attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers, make sure you obtain the names and contact information of any officers who work the accident.
Exchange Information with Drivers and Passengers
While at the scene, always exchange information with other drivers and passengers involved in the accident. This should include names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, license plate numbers, and insurance information. By having this information, you and your attorney will be able to contact these individuals should additional information be needed or questions arise along the way.
Be Friendly, But Don’t Admit Fault
Even though you will be under great stress at an accident scene, try to remain as calm and friendly as possible to police, rescue personnel, and of course others who were involved in the accident. However, being friendly does not mean admitting fault for the accident, or even saying anything that remotely implies the accident was your fault. Therefore, despite the temptation to say “I’m sorry,” refrain from doing so, since this will probably be used against you by the other driver.
Talk to Witnesses
Since there will probably be people who witnessed the accident, try talking to them at the accident scene. If possible, get their names and contact information, and also write down anything they say to you about what they saw before, during, and after the accident. Once you have this information, give it to your auto injury lawyer. Should you decide to pursue litigation, your attorney will want to interview anyone who witnessed the accident, and may also choose to subpoena them to testify in court should the case go to trial.
If you are not too injured to do so, gather as much evidence as possible while at the scene. By using your smartphone, you should be able to take many photos or videos of the scene. Along with getting evidence of the damage to your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle, also try to have photos of any lacerations or other injuries you sustain. In addition, take photos or videos of road conditions at the scene, any stop signs, traffic lights, or other related aspects that could prove important. Finally, if there are any skid marks or property damaged, take photos of these as well, since this could be used by your car accident personal injury lawyer to show the other driver was driving recklessly when the accident happened.
Always Exercise Discretion
Whether speaking to people at the accident scene or insurance company representatives, always exercise tremendous discretion in what you do and say. If you don’t, you may wind up losing your case due to something you gave little if any thought to at the time. To make sure no mistakes are made, say as little as possible at the accident scene, and refer any communications with insurance companies to your Los Angeles accident attorney.
Have Your Injuries Documented
Whether you are transported to a hospital from the accident scene or visit a doctor on your own a day or two later, always make sure you get a complete medical exam and have your injuries documented as soon as possible after your accident. Since some injuries like whiplash or even brain injuries may take hours or days to show symptoms, do not delay in seeking medical treatment. If you do, the other driver’s attorney and insurance company will attempt to say you were never seriously injured, and may be able to successfully use your delay in seeking treatment to keep you from getting the financial compensation you need and deserve.
Whether it is your medical appointments, time missed from work, various types of pain and suffering you endure from your accident injuries, or even various family events you miss due to your condition, make sure you document these and anything else relevant to your life since the accident occurred. By doing so, your auto injury lawyer will be able to show the court just how big an impact the other driver’s negligence and carelessness has had on your life and that of your family.
Though filing a lawsuit in these matters will be a complex process, do not let yourself be intimidated by the other driver or their attorney and insurance company. Instead, contact West Coast Trial Lawyers for additional information on scheduling a consultation and learning how you can receive the compensation you deserve.