There are many things you can do to protect your rights after a car accident. Among these, the most essential is to stay at the scene; otherwise, you may face severe consequences, especially on your insurance claim. Auto accidents are traumatic for most people, and it can also cause them to act rashly. Below are a few things to remember to do to avoid costly legal mistakes.
Call the Police
States have different rules about reporting car accidents, but best to err on the side of caution by contacting the police. Once at the scene, they will document everything and make a report based on what they see. The police report will come in handy when you start processing a claim or building a strong case against the at-fault driver.
If you can move, get pertinent information from those involved, such as their name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, and insurance details. Also, take note of the other vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number. If it is a commercial vehicle, ask for the business name, as they may be liable.
Refrain from Admitting Fault
Whenever you discuss the car accident with anyone, avoid apologizing or admitting blame. Doing so automatically places fault on you, despite no solid proof yet. Admission is allowed as evidence in the case, and sometimes, even an apology. Even if you think your actions were the cause, there may also be other contributing factors. When you need to give a statement to the police or insurance company, remain objective and avoid making assumptions or accusing other parties.
Similarly, refrain from posting anything about what happened on social media, as insurance companies and other individuals may use that against you.
Seek Medical Attention
Do not overlook the importance of getting medical attention. Some injuries do not show symptoms at the onset, only to worsen gradually if left unchecked. Moreover, you will need medical records as proof that you suffered accident-related injuries, essential in making your claim valid.
It is also crucial to strictly follow doctor’s orders on treatments, checkups, and laboratory tests. If you experience complications afterward, it is easier to establish the link between your injuries and the accident.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Immediately inform your insurance provider about the accident. Depending on your policy, you may be entitled to medical benefits, lost wages, and vehicle repairs, but only if you file a claim before the deadline. California is an at-fault state, meaning your insurance company will reimburse all of your incurred expenses from the liable party’s insurer.
After the accident, you or someone with you should take photos of the scene for documentation purposes. Ensure that you also photograph or video the surroundings aside from vehicle damage and injuries. If there are witnesses, ask for their contact information and see whether they can provide a statement before leaving.
Try to remember as many details as possible about what happened. Write everything down while it is still fresh in your memory, such as the time, date, location, and even weather condition. If you notice environmental factors that may have contributed to the accident, take note of them.
Retain Legal Counsel
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your accident, you should consider seeking legal assistance at the start. A personal injury lawyer will advise what to do next to ensure your rights are protected. They will handle communications between you and your insurance company—often, your statement can significantly impact your claims. Should you need to provide one, it is better if your lawyer is present.
When you hire legal counsel, always be truthful with them. They cannot help you if you withhold crucial information about the case.
Failing to protect your legal rights may result in reduced compensation or denied claims. Insurance companies try to reduce their monetary payouts by finding pieces of evidence to bar a victim’s recovery. For example, admitting your fault in the accident, even in passing, allows them to reject your compensation claim.
How a Lawyer Can Help You
Working with a lawyer should not be your option because you plan to file a lawsuit—it may be best to consider hiring one, regardless of your next steps. They will explain your legal rights to understand what you should or should not do to jeopardize your claim. Depending on the situation, they may advise you to avoid providing any recorded statement to the insurance company or only do so whenever they are present. As your legal representative, they will also review any settlement offers given—they will help negotiate for full and fair compensation.
To get started, call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 223-5115.