Every 14 seconds, someone is injured in a car accident on
U.S. soil. Unlike other countries, Americans rely chiefly on personal
automobiles for every daily task. In Europe, Japan, South America, and many
other regions of the world, public buses, trains, and taxi services fill a
larger void in transit.
Luckily, Americans have the benefit of mandatory car insurance coverage and the means to collect it with the assistance of contingency attorneys. A contingency attorney will take a case for a percentage of the overall awards and generally receives no compensation unless they win. But in order to win these personal injury cases (without complications), an auto injury lawyer may suggest that drivers take the following steps after an accident.
The Collateral Steps to Take After a Car Accident
#1: Call for Help
A car accident poses a grave risk of a medical emergency. More than 30 million U.S. drivers are injured each year. And more than 40,000 Americans are killed every year in car accidents. The chances of death increase by 55 percent if you are not wearing a seatbelt because you are more likely to be thrown from the vehicle.
If you check yourself and other motorists for injuries and contact the police, you kill two birds with one stone. The police can dispatch emergency medical services in a severe accident or simply come to the scene to identify the drivers and circumstances of the crash.
Although a police report is not evidence of who caused the accident, it can be used to negate any disputes over the identity of the driver and other information. And by staying at the scene and contacting the police, you will also avoid the possibility of hit-and-run charges.
#2: Gather Evidence
If you can take any videos or photos of the scene in the immediate aftermath, this can also resolve a lot of disputes over the road conditions and location of the crash. And if there are any road signs or hazards that played a key role in establishing liability of the accident, you should record and photograph those as well.
For example, the accident may have occurred because a stop sign was obscured or bent. Making a note of this can help explain why the other driver blew through the intersection. Ice on the road, fog, and other road hazards can also play a role.
#3: Obtain Statements from Witnesses
Witnesses will typically rush right out to the scene to make themselves available if they believe that fault was clearly caused by one party’s negligence. If you encounter a witness or see anyone available, you should ask them to videotape a statement and to provide their name, address, and telephone number. They can later swear out a written statement under oath of perjury before a notary. An auto injury lawyer can assist you with this element of the case.
#4: Exchange Information with Other Motorists
It is critical to obtain license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, insurance policy info, and the name, address, and telephone number of all drivers involved. You can typically speed up this process by taking a photo of the documents or cards with your SmartPhone.
If you get into a minor fender-bender in a parking lot or street, you can provide your contact information by simply leaving a note under the windshield wiper or jamming it in the doorjamb. Wrap it in plastic if bad weather is expected.
#5: Be Careful About Any Statements that You Make
You never want to admit fault in a car accident or speculate. In many cases, drivers don’t know what caused the accident until weeks or months later. It is important to only state the hard facts and to state that you don’t remember if there are any points that you are unsure about.
It is common for accident victims to have no idea what happened because accidents happen so quickly. They may not have seen the driver even approaching if they weren’t expecting them to pass them from the right side.
You should never discuss the accident with any insurance adjusters. You can discuss it with your own insurance company only if you do not have an underinsured or uninsured motorist policy that may make them liable.
In most cases, you need to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer to draft a demand statement. An attorney can help you to not only state the facts with objectivity and clarity but can also support those claims with forensic evidence.
You also want to avoid making any statements or posting any photos on social media. The mistake that some injury victims make is highlighting the times when they feel healthy. They may take a picture smiling or post photos of them engaged in a sports activity. If you are claiming chronic pain and suffering, these posts can be detrimental to the credibility of your claims.
#6: Document Your Injuries
The bulk of your claim and the total value are computed based on evidence of the damage costs incurred. This compensatory damage is based on medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other expenses that can reasonably be attributed to the accident. Meaning that only because you were in the accident did these damages result.
Of course, you also have to demonstrate due diligence in mitigating the damages to avoid comparative or contributory negligence. Contributory negligence occurs when the other driver alleges that you somehow contributed to your own injuries. This can be by failure to seek medical care, as a condition progressed, or by failing to maintain your brakes or drive defensively.
You can even take video evidence of the extensive rehab therapy and pictures of burns, lacerations, or other graphic injuries that show just how severe your injuries were and how traumatizing the experience was for you. Keeping track of medications that you took each day and a diary of how you feel may also help to paint the picture of just how seriously you were affected.
For example, if you had trouble moving for weeks because your neck was in a brace, this would be a compelling reason to increase the damages for pain and suffering. Anyone could relate with how uncomfortable and painful the injury may be.
#7: Contact an Attorney
West Coast Trial Lawyers are your best bet for obtaining full and fair compensation in your case. Legal claims are very fragile and can be destroyed by small technicalities. When you hire an accomplished Los Angeles accident attorney, you have the benefit of years of experience and a streamlined resolution process.
Don’t let insurers play games with your life and deny you the compensation that you need for a full recovery. Hiring a car accident personal injury lawyer to handle the claims ensures that your case is presented without error.
West Coast Trial Lawyers put the hard work into investigating and preparing your case. They have access to the leading experts in the field and a large track record of success to boast. A Los Angeles accident attorney will fight for your rights and hold at-fault parties responsible to the fullest extent under the law.