While you may love driving around Los Angeles and the surrounding areas in California, statistics show it can be quite dangerous. In fact, there is a one in three chance you will be involved in a car accident. While some accidents may be fender benders, others will be much more serious and potentially change your life forever. Whether this means being disabled due to your injuries, no longer being able to work at your career, or even participate in beloved family activities, these and other developments happen on a regular basis to car accident victims.
If you are involved in a car accident, there are many things you should and should not do to make sure you have the best possible chance of winning a personal injury lawsuit and gaining the financial compensation you deserve. Rather than make a costly mistake at the accident scene or afterwards, here are some crucial reminders to always keep in mind in these situations.
Stay at the accident scene
When a car accident happens, you will of course be eager to leave the scene as soon as possible. However, always remain at the scene until it is safe to leave and police working the accident give you permission to do so. Should you leave prematurely, officers could charge you with leaving the scene of an accident. Also, when the accident initially happens, always make sure you stay at the scene rather than panic and drive off. If this happens, the charges could escalate to hit-and-run, which carries severe legal penalties and opens you up to greater levels of liability.
Contact police and rescue personnel
Once you can do so, always dial 9-1-1 to summon rescue personnel and police to the scene. Once they arrive, they will not only go about securing the scene for security and safety reasons, but also begin assessing and treating injuries you and anyone else sustained. As for police, they will question everyone at the scene and then complete an accident report. In this report, the officer in charge of the scene will make a judgment as to who was at fault for the accident and include this in the report. Once the report is completed, your personal injury will obtain a copy and begin pouring over the details. Should the report state the other driver was responsible for the accident, the best car accident attorney you have hired will have the leverage needed to pressure an insurance company into reaching a settlement that will more than pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Talk to witnesses
Since it is likely someone saw exactly what happened that led to the accident, make sure you speak with any witnesses at the scene. In doing so, you should always use your smartphone to record their statements, since it is possible they may forget key points later on or be pressured into changing their initial account of the accident. Once you have done this and also obtained their contact information, turn this over to your personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. By having this information, your attorney will be able to not only compare the witness statements to information contained in the police report, but will also be able to interview them for additional information.
Take photos of the scene
While at the accident scene, always use your smartphone to take photos that could help prove your case in court. For example, always take photos of any damages sustained by vehicles involved in the accident, and also have evidence of any visible injuries such as cuts or bruises you and other victims sustained. But along with this, be aware of any nearby stop signs, traffic lights, crosswalks, or other things that could have played a factor in the accident. Finally, should there be skid marks on the road that point to speed or reckless driving being a factor, take photos of these as well. By turning over these photos to the best car accident attorney in Los Angeles, they will be able to work with experienced accident reconstruction analysts to determine exactly how the accident happened. In doing so, these analysts can testify on your behalf as expert witnesses, which could help you win your lawsuit.
Exchange information with other drivers
While at the scene, always exchange certain information with the other drivers and passengers who were part of the accident. This should include names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, driver’s license numbers, and makes and models of the vehicles damaged in the accident.
Seek medical treatment
While it is likely paramedics will examine you at the scene, don’t let this be the end of your medical treatment. Along with this, allow yourself to be transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital for additional examination. In many car accidents, victims may not realize they are suffering from whiplash, back injuries, brain injuries, or internal bleeding until they are examined by doctors. Along with getting your injuries promptly treated, you will also ensure the injuries sustained in the accident will be entered into your medical records. Upon doing so, insurance companies will no longer have a valid claim that you were not injured in the accident, increasing the chances your lawsuit will be successful.
Never admit fault
Whether you are talking to police about the accident, having a conversation with the other drivers or passengers at the scene, or answering questions from a doctor at the hospital, never say anything that sounds as though you are admitting the accident was your fault. In fact, while you will no doubt want to be polite to others, refrain from saying something as simple as “I’m sorry.” Should you say this to the other driver or to police, there is little doubt this one statement will be used against you in an attempt to prove you admit fault for the accident. Therefore, no matter the circumstances, try to say as little as possible about the accident until you have spoken to an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles.
Document your damages
Whether your lawsuit makes it to a courtroom or your lawyer instead is able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement, it is important you document all damages you sustained as a result of the accident. For example, always keep careful track of all medical expenses regarding treatment for your injuries, and also have costs associated with damage to your vehicle. In addition, calculate your lost wages not only that have been lost since the accident, but also ones that will be lost in the future if you are unable to return to work. By having an itemized list of exact figures to give to your attorney, you will be able to show just how much the accident has impacted you and your family.
When involved in these difficult situations, it is always best to hire the best car accident attorney in your area. Because of this, contact West Coast Trial Lawyers for additional information on scheduling a consultation and discussing your case in greater detail. By doing so, you will have expert legal counsel ready to help you gain the financial compensation you need and deserve.