Vehicular Accident First Steps Checklist
If you were driving and hit another car or a pedestrian, would you know what you should do? Car accidents happen every day. When a car accident occurs, emotions may be high, injuries may be serious, and there are several important steps to take immediately after an accident while still at the scene. Would you know what to do?
Remain At The Scene
The first rule is that you must stay at the scene of the accident. If there are any injuries and you leave the scene, you could be prosecuted and face criminal charges. One caution, however, is that if you’re in an out of the way place, an unknown area or feel that you’re in danger, remain in your vehicle until help arrives. There have been reports of someone being injured by other cars, robbed, or even murdered when they exited the car. Instead of trying to flee from the vehicle when confronted by such situation, it would be wiser to drive to the nearest police station. If it turns out that the other driver has no intention to harm you, roll the window down an inch and speak out of the window if there is a need to communicate. Tell the other party you’ve called 911 for help and that you’re going to wait in your vehicle.
Check For Injuries
Make sure that no passengers or drivers were injured. If there are any injuries, call for medical attention immediately. Never move anyone who may have a back or neck injury. However, if the injured person is in a puddle of fuel that may ignite, it may require moving them as quickly (and gently) as possible. If you’re not getting out of your car as per above, but you think the other parties are injured, be sure to call for medical attention and let them know you’re not exiting your car for personal safety reasons.
Call the Authorities
After ensuring that everyone is okay or calling medical help, call the police. A law officer will arrive at the scene and file a police report. If there is any property damage or injuries, this will be required for insurance purposes.
Trade Information with Parties Involved
Exchange your insurance information with the other driver and the police officer. In most cases, the police will copy this information for each driver. You’ll want phone numbers, license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information. If there are passengers, get their information as well.
Get in Touch With Witnesses
If there are bystanders, get their information as well. They may have a different perspective on what happened.
Document the Scene
Take pictures. In today’s modern era, most people have a cell phone that can take pictures. Take photos from every angle. Get both vehicles. Be sure that you’re standing far enough back to get a few full pictures as well as some up close pictures. If you have photos of your vehicle before the damages, show those to the insurance company as well so that they can see the full extent of the damages.
After the Accident
Call your insurance company, email or text them the pictures. Give them the file number for the police report. Make sure that you’re honest with them. If you lie, and they find out, there will be a cancellation of your insurance, and you may find that you have to pay the full amount out of your own pocket.
Document Medical Care
Document every doctor visit, procedures and your pain. If you’re on medications, make sure to keep a copy of the prescriptions and other medical records related to the accident. Keep a journal of all of these details in case you need them for insurance purposes, court or an attorney.
Obtain Assessment of Property Damages
Get a value on all property damages, whether it be a fence that was taken out, fender damage or something else, get written evaluations of each incident involving the accident. Discuss all of this with the insurance adjuster and if for any reason there are discrepancies, don’t hesitate to hire an attorney.
Use caution and discretion when discussing the accident with others. If you have an attorney, be sure that the attorney is present any time you’re talking about the accident. You don’t want to discuss it with the other insurance company or with anyone who may represent the other party unless you’ve first discussed it with your attorney. In most cases, let the attorney do the talking for you. This is far safer for you.
Be Mindful Of Early Settlements
Don’t agree to, or sign any early settlement offers. You want to make sure that you’re getting the entire settlement that you’re due. This amount should cover your injuries, expenses and the value of the property. It may take several days before all of your injuries or someone else’s injuries show up. For this reason, avoid early settlements and offers. Once you’ve signed off on a settlement, you can’t go back and recoup more expenses, and you want to make sure you get everything coming to you.
Following these steps will help you to be safer, and get the compensation that you’re owed and deserve after a car accident.
Schedule Your Free Consultation With Our Personal Injury Lawyer
Christopher Montes de Oca is an experienced personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. Chris is recognized as a “Super Lawyer Rising Star,” a recognition that only 2.5 percent of lawyers receive, because of the exceptional results he has seen and his dedication to his clients. Chris services clients throughout Los Angeles, including Echo Park, Maywood, Long Beach, Whittier, Glendale, La Mirada, Pico Rivera, Hacienda Heights, and Alhambra. Call him today for a free consultation at (562) 901-4664.