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Injured in a car accident

What to Do If You Are Injured in a Car Accident

If you have been injured in a car accident in California, there are steps you need to take immediately following the crash to make sure you have the best chance of obtaining full compensation to help you recover from this experience. Missing any of these steps or waiting too long can make the process much more difficult and may put you into a situation in which you will have to pay out of pocket for all accident-related expenses.

At the Scene of the Accident

  1. Call Emergency Services to report the crash.

By calling emergency services, you are letting the proper authorities know that a car accident has taken place. The fire department, emergency medical services, and police or sheriff’s department may all report to the scene of the accident. It is critical that law enforcement is there to do a preliminary investigation of the accident, interview all parties involved, interview any witnesses that were present, inspect the vehicles impacted by the accident, and determine who was at fault. One of the most important and persuasive pieces of evidence in a car accident case is the law enforcement report in which they determine who was at fault. This will help prove the liable party is responsible for your damages. Without a police or sheriff’s car accident report, you may be at risk of a contested situation. The other driver may claim you were at fault for the accident when they were the at-fault party. Always call emergency services and ask for law enforcement to come to the scene when reporting a car accident.

  1. Seek medical attention and treatment as soon as possible.

While we will go into greater detail about seeking medical attention for your injuries, make sure to either take emergency transport to a hospital or see your doctor as soon as possible to have your injuries evaluated. Some injuries may be severe or life-threatening and need emergency treatment. Others may be very obvious but are not life-threatening, such as a broken bone. You may also have injuries that are severe but do not appear immediately as your body is in a state of shock after the crash. Those injuries may start to appear within 24 hours to a couple of days after the collision. Always see your doctor after being in a car accident, even if you do not feel as though you are severely injured. Insurance companies may see any delay in medical treatment as showing that you were not truly injured when in fact your injuries just took time to appear.

  1. Obtain contact information.

Obtaining the contact information from the other party or parties involved in the car accident as well as any potential witnesses will help build your case in the future. Try to get the name, phone number, address, and e-mail address of anyone who was involved in the crash or saw it happen. Make sure to also get the insurance information for the other party or parties involved in the crash.

  1. Take photos and videos of the scene.

If the scene of the accident is safe, and you are able to take pictures and videos of the area, do so quickly before any vehicles leave or a tow-truck driver takes them away. Take pictures of all vehicles involved, the surrounding area, any notable traffic signs or signals, and your injuries. If another property that was in the vehicle with you was damaged during the accident, take photos of that as well. Photos and videos of the scene will show evidence of how the accident occurred and who may be at fault.

Within 24 to 48 Hours of the Accident

  1. Describe your injuries in detail to your doctor or healthcare professional.

When you receive medical attention following a car accident, it is essential to describe your injuries in complete detail to your doctor. The healthcare professional helping you recover will be documenting everything in their medical records. These records will later be relied upon by the insurance company when they are evaluating your injury claim. Downplaying an injury or saying “it isn’t that bad” will not be helpful in the future. Make sure to let the doctor know how bad your injuries feel, how they have progressed over time, and if the injuries are keeping you from participating in daily activities. Even a slight pain may progress to something more serious over time as the shock from the car accident wears off.

  1. Get comprehensive diagnostic tests.

While obtaining medical treatment for your injuries, ask your doctor for comprehensive diagnostic testing related to any injuries you have sustained. This is not the time or place to worry about saving money on medical expenses as you need to fully understand the scope of your injuries. These diagnostic tests will be able to discover any hidden injuries and can document them. Some doctors may be reluctant to order further testing, however, you are the best advocate for yourself and your health. Make sure to ask for the necessary x-rays, MRIs, scans, and other tests that will show the extent of your injuries.

  1. Contact your insurance company.

After receiving medical treatment, you should contact your insurance company to report that the accident occurred. When calling your insurance company, only state the facts of what happened during the crash. Do not give a long, drawn-out statement that could potentially damage your case.

  1. Contact experienced legal counsel in your area.

While you may not feel as though you will need legal representation to seek compensation, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer. They will be able to help you communicate with the insurance company and make sure you are not taken advantage of. Your lawyer will always have your best interests at heart and will fight to make sure you receive the maximum amount of financial compensation possible for your injuries and other damages. An experienced trial lawyer will also be able to guide you through the legal process to help with getting your vehicle repaired, coverage for a rental car, and more. The amount a motor vehicle accident injury victim obtains is statistically higher when hiring a lawyer to take on an insurance company compared to handling the claim yourself.

There is a time limit for filing a claim for personal injury as a result of a car accident in California. If the time limit passes, the judge in your case will most likely dismiss the claim immediately. In most cases, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Always consult with an attorney concerning the correct time limit that applies to your case. Call our offices today to discuss your situation.