You are careful when you drive. You follow the rules and behave in ways that reduce the risk of collision. Not everyone is so conscientious. Indeed, there are people who drive so recklessly that they should not even be on the road. If you have been injured in an accident caused by such a person, you do have legal options.
What to do after a Car Accident
A car crash is a harrowing experience. It can leave you confused and shaken. After the crash, it will take you a moment to regain your senses and understand what exactly happened. Once you have done so, you should take the following actions.
1. Remain at the scene
You should always remain at the scene of the accident. If you have been injured, you will have no choice in the matter. But even if you are able to drive away, you should not. Doing so will put you in serious legal trouble.
2. Assess the injuries of others
You will need to assess your condition and that of your passengers. It may take some searching to discover that someone is bleeding seriously or is in a similar life-threatening condition.
3. Call 911
You will need to call emergency services. Don’t assume that others will. The operator will ask you for details about your condition and the people in your car. You should supply as many of them as you can. And do not worry about a delay in the dispatch of emergency vehicles. The operator will send police and ambulance services to your location the moment you call.
4. Exchange information
You should speak to the other driver and write down their name, license plate number, and insurance details. You should be kind, friendly, and courteous. However, you should not admit to error or apologize for wrongdoing. Nor need you blame them for the accident. Keep your own counsel until you have had a chance to record what you remember and speak to a lawyer about it.
5. Take photographs
Take as many photographs of the accident, from as many angles, as you can. \
6. Speak to other witnesses
It may be possible for you to speak to other witnesses. If this is the case, you should get their names and contact details. Don’t strain yourself. If you have been injured in the accident, then you should sit still and wait for the ambulance.
7. Get a medical examination
When the ambulance shows up, you should allow yourself to be put in it and carried to the hospital. Even if you do not feel badly injured, you should be examined by a qualified physician. They will use methods and equipment that can detect injuries that you can neither see nor feel. If you have suffered scrapes, bruises, and broken bones, you will need get them treated. You should take photographs of your wounds before they are cleaned, treated, and bandaged. You should also insist that your examination and course of treatment are documented. You should ask for copies of all such documentation and you need to keep a personal log of your conversations with physicians and the timeline of events.
8. Call a lawyer
At some point you will need to report the accident to your insurance company. But before you do so, you should call an auto injury lawyer.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Your lawyer will be the only one looking out for your interests. Everyone else—the insurance company and the other driver—will be looking out for theirs. Indeed, insurance company employ strategies of every kind to minimize the amount of money they must pay out. They will not care about the extent of your injuries; their main aim will be to pay you as little as possible.
In the first interview, your auto injury lawyer will ask you about the accident and the circumstances that led to it. You may need to lean on the notes that you took afterward. However, you should try to tell the story in a smooth narrative form. Your attorney will help you do so. It is important to get the story right, as it will form the basis of the legal strategy formulated by your lawyer.
If a police investigation concludes that the accident was caused by the other driver, their insurance company may attempt to contact you to offer a low-ball settlement. You should not accept any such offer without consulting with your car accident attorney. Indeed, you should refer all such attempts to communicate with you—by phone, email, or text—to your attorney. You should allow your lawyer to speak for you in all such matters. The last thing you want is to accidently say or do something that will undermine your case.
If the insurance company offers enough money to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and the mental and emotional turmoil you have endured, then your car accident attorney may urge you to take it. However, if you have been seriously injured, then your lawyer may demand more money on your behalf.
The Consequences of a Serious Car Accident
A car accident that puts you in the hospital for weeks and on your back for months can lead to upheaval in your life. You will be burdened with medical bills that you can’t pay because you can’t work. You may even lose your job owing to a long convalescence. This can wreak havoc on your home life, especially if you were struggling to make ends meet before the accident.
You should not have to settle for a sum of money that leaves you burdened with debt and no means of adjusting to a lifestyle you have been forced into.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
West Coast trial lawyers specialize in helping ordinary people get the compensation they deserve from insurance companies. If you have been offered a settlement that is too low, that is not commensurate with the injuries you have suffered, your personal injury lawyer will request further negotiations with the insurance company and demand a higher sum. If they refuse, then you will need to sue.
A lawsuit will give your attorney further powers to subpoena documents and depose employees of the company. Insurance companies use tricks of all kinds to deny legitimate claims. If that has happened in your case, your lawyer will find out about it. They will also gather the evidence necessary to prove that the accident owed to the recklessness of the other driver, that you were injured as a result, that the injury has left you severely debilitated, and that the insurance company owes you a specific sum of money for damages.
To do so, the insurance company will re-interview witnesses. Some people don’t like speaking to police, and so the officers who responded to your call may not have gotten all the facts. Someone may have seen and recorded something that they are willing to share with private investigators. Your lawyer will also get sworn statements from physicians explaining the impact of the accident on your health and your prospects for recovery.
If you have been in a car accident, you need legal representation. West Coast trial lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve.