Few things are more unnerving than getting into a car accident. Unfortunately, they happen every day in Los Angeles. Your life can be turned upside down, even if you were being extremely careful behind the wheel.
You need to understand that the things you do and the decisions you make immediately after your accident matter. Those decisions will affect any legal claims you decide to pursue. Mistakes could cost you valuable compensation.
Here are the steps you need to take to protect yourself and your injury claims after a Los Angeles car accident.
Move Away From the Scene, If Possible
It can be dangerous to stay with your vehicle after an accident. If possible, move your car to the side of the road. If that’s not possible, make sure that you can at least move away from the wreck.
Other drivers approaching the scene might not be paying attention. They may not realize that your car is stopped in the middle of the road until it’s too late. This often results in additional collisions. You want to minimize your risk of injuries by moving to a safe location.
Contact the Police
Report the accident to the police as soon as possible. An officer will arrive on the scene and conduct a preliminary investigation. While a police report isn’t admissible as evidence, it will contain valuable details about your case. Many times, these include details that you’re likely to forget over time (e.g., weather, traffic conditions, witness names and information). This information will be critical as your attorney investigates your accident and builds your personal injury lawsuit.
Exchange Insurance Information
Insurance will be the primary source of compensation after a car accident. If someone else is at fault, you’ll want to make sure that you have their insurance information. By law, parties are required to exchange this information if there’s significant property damage or if anyone is injured or killed.
Seek Medical Assistance
Call an ambulance or visit a hospital. Do this even if you don’t think your injuries are severe. Car accidents are violent and can do a lot of damage. You’ll want to rule out any internal damage and make sure that all of your injuries are promptly diagnosed. This will not only protect you from dangerous complications, but also help to create a causal link to the crash.
Only Answer Simple Questions; Refuse Early Settlement Offers
Insurance companies might try to get to you before you have the chance to consult an attorney. Why? They’d rather deal with you than someone who has years of experience navigating injury claims. They know you’re more likely to accept a lowball offer when you’re not represented by a lawyer.
It’s okay to answer an insurance company’s simple questions. These might include your name and identifying information. If an insurance company representative begins to dig any deeper, simply end the conversation. Wait until you’ve hired an attorney and let us handle communications on your behalf.
Don’t Sign Anything Without Your Attorney’s Approval
Be careful about signing anything after your Los Angeles car accident. Insurers will try to get you to sign forms waiving your rights or granting them access to your private medical records. Signing these forms will only hurt your ability to recover the money you deserve. Let your attorney look over any documents before you sign them.
Report Your Accident to the State
You’re required, by law, to formally report an accident to the state of California if:
- Someone is injured or killed, or
- There’s property damage in excess of $1,000.
To do this, you’ll have to complete and submit Form SR-1 within 10 days of your accident. Failure to do this can jeopardize your ability to recover compensation from an insurance company or at-fault party.
Call an Experienced Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
Car accident lawsuits and insurance claims can be complicated. You risk leaving valuable money on the table when you try to navigate an injury case on your own. When you hire a personal injury attorney, you’ll protect your rights and put yourself in the best position to get every penny you deserve. You only have a limited amount of time to file a claim, so it’s important to act quickly.