What Are the 5 Steps You Should Follow if You Are Involved in a Car Accident?

Any car accident can be a life-changing incident, and the first steps you take following an accident can significantly affect your recovery. Auto insurance is typically the first option available for the victim of an accident, but it’s necessary to prove fault before pursuing an insurance claim payout or pursuing further legal action with a personal injury claim. Ultimately, many people who experience damaging car accidents make unintended mistakes that hinder their efforts to recover their losses.

Perry Personal Injury Lawyers offers compassionate legal counsel to victims of car accidents in the Encinitas, CA, area and wants to provide prospective clients with useful guidance that can help after a car accident. The following are the first five steps that are essential after any car accident in California if you want to preserve any legal options you may have for recovering your losses.

One: Report the Accident

California law requires drivers to report any accident resulting in property damage, injury, or death. Failure to do so can lead to severe legal penalties for the at-fault driver, including criminal prosecution for hit-and-run. Reporting the accident also creates an official record of the incident. The police will respond to the crash scene, conduct an initial investigation, and interview the parties involved and any witnesses at the scene.

The police report generated after your accident can be vital to a subsequent auto insurance claim and/or personal injury claim. Remember that if the police interview you after an accident, do not say anything they might interpret as an admission of guilt. Even saying something like “I’m sorry” could amount to accusations of comparative fault from the other driver. Instead, answer the responding officers’ questions honestly and concisely until they allow you to leave the scene.

Two: Seek Medical Treatment

It’s important to seek medical attention after any car accident, even if you think you only sustained minor cuts and bruises. A car accident is a traumatic incident that will cause an adrenaline surge, dulling pain sensations for some time. It’s common for people to walk away from car accidents seemingly unharmed, only for them to wake up the next day in incredible pain. Additionally, internal injuries can cause severe damage if they are not addressed immediately, but some of these injuries aren’t immediately noticeable.

Seeking prompt medical care can not only prevent car accident injuries from worsening but also create a formal record that the victim sought medical attention promptly after their accident. In addition, a medical report will outline the scope of the medical care required following a car accident and a prognosis for any future medical complications the victim will likely face from the incident.

Three: Notify Insurance Carriers of the Accident

Auto insurance is a valuable lifeline after a car accident, and California law requires all drivers to have auto insurance that includes liability coverage for bodily injuries and property damage. If you have been injured in a car accident another driver caused, you can file a claim against their auto insurance policy to seek compensation for your losses. However, you should not negotiate insurance settlements after your accident until you secure legal representation.

Every insurance carrier has different notification requirements, but it is generally best to notify an insurer of your intent to file a claim within the first 24 to 48 hours following an accident. You should also notify your insurance carrier of your accident since your policy applies to your vehicle. Failure to notify them could lead to problems with your coverage. If you plan to file a claim against another driver’s insurance policy, notify their carrier of your intent to file your claim, but tell them you must consult legal counsel before discussing a settlement.

Four: Gather Critical Documentation

Whether you think an auto insurance claim will fully compensate your losses or you will need to take further legal action with a personal injury suit, success with your legal efforts will require producing evidence of your damages. Again, an experienced attorney can provide useful advice in this situation. For example, you may need medical records and vehicle repair invoices to prove the extent of your economic losses. You may also need testimony from expert witnesses who can help you prove liability and establish the full scope of your damages.

Success with a personal injury claim requires proving the full scope of damages caused by the defendant. In addition, the plaintiff must also prove the defendant directly caused their claimed damages and that they are not the results of some other cause. Your attorney will help you determine the documentation and evidence needed for an auto insurance claim and subsequent personal injury suit.

Five: Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Working with a reliable attorney is the best way to maximize your chances of success with an auto insurance claim and a personal injury claim following a car accident someone else caused. Your attorney can manage your legal affairs on your behalf so you can recover with peace of mind. In addition, legal counsel makes it easier to secure a fair insurance settlement from an auto insurance carrier and ensures you have the support you need to face a complex personal injury suit.

If you attempted to handle your car accident claim independently, you would need to meet strict procedural requirements with an insurance claim and a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. Instead of managing these concerns on your own while recovering from painful injuries, have an experienced legal team manage your case so you can recover with peace of mind.

Perry Personal Injury Lawyers offers comprehensive legal counsel to victims of car accidents in Southern California. We know how these unexpected and damaging incidents can disrupt the lives of victims and their families and strive to provide responsive legal counsel when it’s needed most. If you would like to discuss your legal options after another driver has caused a collision with your vehicle, we can help. Contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team about your recent car accident.