What to Do in a Lancaster Car Accident
If you find yourself in a car accident, it is important not to panic. Car accidents can be a jarring, scary, and injurious experience, and your first instinct may be to head home and try to forget the whole incident. There are important steps to take after an accident that are necessary to preserve your rights, your health, and your finances. Read on to learn how to behave after a traffic accident, and call a dedicated Lancaster car accident lawyer if you have been injured in a car crash in the Antelope Valley.
Stop at the scene, report the accident, exchange information with other involved parties
California law requires drivers involved in an accident to stop at the scene and exchange contact information. If anyone is injured, call 911. Any accident involving personal injury or property damage exceeding $1,000 must be reported to the proper authorities (including the DMV). Even if there are no serious injuries, you should still report the accident to the police. They will likely send over an officer to investigate the accident and prepare a report. That police report may become vital to your eventual legal claim.
After reporting the accident, collect information from the other driver(s) involved, including their name, address, phone number, insurance company name and policy number, driver’s license number, vehicle identification number, and license plate number.
Seek medical attention
If you have any reason to believe you might have been injured in the accident, whether it be a concussion, whiplash, bone fracture, or any other type of injury, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Even if you feel fine after a crash, you may have a latent injury such as internal bleeding or a concussion that you cannot easily detect, but that can become dangerous if left unidentified and untreated. Moreover, seeing a doctor immediately will help you prove that any injury you did suffer was in fact caused by the accident, which will help your eventual legal claim should the other driver or an insurance company dispute your claims.
Report the accident to your insurance company
After an accident, particularly if you were not at fault, you should inform your insurance company. Failing to report an accident to your insurance company can result in them denying the renewal of your policy, raising your premiums, or canceling your policy.
Take photos, collect evidence
You should start your process of collecting evidence from the moment you step out of the car. Take photos of your car, the other car(s), yourself (if you have any apparent injuries), and the surrounding area. If there are any witnesses, including other passengers, collect their contact information so that your attorney or the police can discuss the incident with them later if necessary. You may want to ask them for a statement at that time.
Keep copies of any documents generated in connection with the accident: Police reports, photos, medical records, communications with the insurance companies, etc. Share these with your lawyer.
Do not admit fault or say that you were not hurt
Your ability to secure full coverage for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, or any other expenses resulting from an accident may depend heavily on proving fault. As a polite person, your first instinct after an accident may be to apologize, especially if the other party is hurt. Do not apologize. Be helpful and courteous, but at no point should you say anything that may sound like an admission of fault.
Likewise, do not tell anyone that you are “fine” or otherwise unhurt. You may have a latent or hidden injury that you will not discover until you see a doctor, and by stating that you are unhurt, you are weakening your ultimate ability to get coverage or repayment for your injuries.
Contact a lawyer to discuss your options and build your case
After an accident in California, you have three options to get coverage for your injuries and other damages: File a claim with your insurance company; file a claim with the other party’s insurance company; or file a lawsuit against the other party directly. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine the best step forward and help you build the strongest case to secure maximum recovery, whichever route you choose.
Get Legal Help after a Serious Lancaster Traffic Accident
If you have been hurt in an Antelope Valley car crash, talk to an experienced and passionate Lancaster personal injury attorney about pursuing a claim for damages by calling the Kistler Law Firm at 661-206-6990 for a free consultation.