How to Guide: Steps to Take After a Car Accident in California
According to news reports, California is seeing an alarming rise in the number of auto-related fatalities. In fact, in 2016, there were 3,680 deaths from motor vehicle accidents in California. Some believe the increase in auto-related deaths is due to a rebounding and growing economy while others believe it is caused by texting while driving and an increase in alcohol-impaired drivers on the road.
Either way, the impact of car accidents on the economy and on individual victims cannot be overstated. Car wrecks can absolutely devastate an entire family, even when only one person is injured. After a car accident, follow these clear and simple steps to make sure your rights are protected.
Step 1: Call 9-1-1
It is important for police to be notified so they can secure the crash scene, keep traffic moving, and investigate the accident. This also ensures you will get a traffic collision report and important insurance information from all parties involved. Finally, if there are injuries, you want emergency responders on site as soon as possible.
Step 2: Take Pictures and Exchange Insurance Information
If you are able, take photos of the damage, the scene, all vehicles involved, and anything else you think could be helpful. If you are too badly injured, do not worry about taking photos. If there are witnesses or good Samaritans, ask if they can take pictures and send them to you. If you can not get photos, it is okay. If possible, they can be very helpful.
In some instances, the police will decline to come to the scene of the crash. Whether the police arrive or not, be sure to take pictures of the property damage to all vehicles involved. Additionally, it is important to get auto insurance information from all parties involved and a picture of their driver’s license. If there are any witnesses to the accident, it is prudent to obtain their contact information as well.
Step 3: Go to a Hospital or Urgent Care
Unless you are 100% sure that you are not injured, you should go to the hospital or urgent care as soon as possible. Sometimes, the symptoms associated with an injury sustained from the car accident don’t show up for days or even weeks. If you delay seeking medical attention, you give the insurance company for the at-fault party reason to deny you compensation or undervalue your injury claim.
Step 4: Follow Medical Advice
It is important to follow the medical advice given by your doctor. For example, if the emergency room doctor tells you to follow up with your primary care doctor, that is something that you should do. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, see step 5. If a doctor recommends physical therapy or chiropractic care then you should heed the doctor’s advice and seek treatment with that medical professional.
Step 5: Call an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
As soon as your medical condition is stable and you are able to contact an attorney, call our firm to schedule a free meeting to discuss your accident and your injuries. The sooner an attorney is involved, the sooner we can wage a full-scale investigation to build your case and help protect you from potentially abusive insurance practices.
We never take a fee for a meeting to discuss your case, and we only get paid for our work if we are able to help you collect compensation for your injuries. If you wait too long to take action, you could jeopardize your chances or even lose your rights altogether. If don’t have access to medical care, we will help set that up for you.