In the blink of an eye, a car accident can change everything. Regardless of how cautious you are on the road, it's an unfortunate reality that accidents happen. When they do, the moments following the collision can be chaotic and confusing, leaving you unsure of what steps to take.
Ayala, Morgan & Buzzard will cover the importance of filing a police report, contacting your insurance company, seeking medical attention, reaching out to a personal injury attorney, and more. It is important to understand these actions to take after a car accident to ensure you are proactive in protecting yourself, your rights, and your future.
1. First and Foremost, Stay Safe
Your safety should be your top priority in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. If you are able, move your vehicle to the side of the road or a safe location, and turn on hazards to alert other drivers. DO NOT stand in/ on the roadway; stand behind guard rails or barriers when available. If there is not a safe place to stand, remaining in your vehicle while wearing your seatbelt is the safest option. If safe to do so, check on the other individuals involved in the accident to ensure no one is seriously injured. If needed, call an ambulance for those who require medical attention.
2. Call the Police and File a Report
Contacting law enforcement and filing a police report is a critical step following an accident. A police report will provide an official account of the incident and can be invaluable evidence during insurance claims and potential legal battles. Be sure to remain at the scene until an officer arrives to take your statement, and do not admit fault to anyone. California law requires that you produce your license, registration & proof of insurance to the other driver and law enforcement.
3. Document the Scene
Take photographs of the damage to both vehicles and your surroundings, any relevant road signs or conditions, and other details that may have contributed to the accident. Collect the names, contact information, and insurance details of the other driver(s) involved, as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses present. This documentation will be crucial when dealing with insurance companies and potential legal matters.
4. Seek Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine immediately following an accident, getting checked out by medical professionals is always a good idea. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent but can surface later with painful consequences. Additionally, having a medical record of your injuries can strengthen your case if you need to pursue compensation for medical expenses.
While physical health is crucial, a collision can also impact mental health. There can be psychological trauma associated with the experience that can manifest in physical and emotional symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fear, or flashbacks. A mental health professional can help you process your experiences, develop coping mechanisms to better manage stress and anxiety, and provide support as you adjust to any changes in your life or lifestyle resulting from the car crash.
5. Contact Your Insurance Company and a Personal Injury Attorney
Before you call your insurance company, consider reaching out to a personal injury attorney for guidance. They can advise you on the best course of action when speaking with insurance companies and handling the complexities that often come with accident claims; for example, if the other driver is uninsured, your own insurance carrier will use anything you say/provide to them to diminish your claim. Accidents are traumatic experiences, and remembering every detail can be challenging. Having an attorney's support can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Compassionate Attorneys Prepared to Help
A car accident can be a disorienting and distressing experience, but knowing the immediate steps to take afterward can make a significant difference in protecting yourself and your future. Remember to prioritize safety, file a police report, document the scene, seek medical attention, and consult with a personal injury attorney to guide you through the process. While we all hope to avoid accidents, being prepared and knowing what to do in the unfortunate event of a collision can provide peace of mind and confidence in handling the aftermath.
Learn more about how we can help with your case or schedule a case review by calling our office at (925) 744-8869 or visiting our website.