What should I do after a car accident?

Car accidents can occur suddenly, and often without any warning. The results of a car accident can be devastating and even catastrophic for victims. In just a few split seconds, a car accident can leave you and your loved ones disoriented, in a state of shock and trauma, and possibly seriously injured. Knowing the proper steps to take beforehand to protect both your health and your legal rights, can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your car accident case.  According to top-rated  car accident lawyer Dawn Hassell of San Francisco, California based personal injury lawyers The Hassell Law Group, these are 10 important steps to take immediately after a car accident:

  • Stop your vehicle and remain at the accident scene. Remain as calm and collected as possible. It is important to stay as calm and focused as possible to deal with the tasks at hand.
  • Call 911 and summon the Police and Paramedics to the accident scene and obtain a Traffic Collision Report. Cooperate with the Police investigation and be sure to make note of the responding officer’s name and badge number.
  • Do Not Admit Fault: Avoid admitting fault, even if you initially think you are at fault. Car accident victims are often traumatized immediately after a car accident. You may ultimately not be at fault when the accident is investigated. Erroneously admitting fault can damage your car accident claim and any potential financial compensation that you may be entitled to.
  • Do Not Discuss the Accident with The Other Driver: At fault drivers may try to convince you not to call the Police. They may say they will pay for your damages, only to change their story afterward and blame you for causing the accident. It is not advisable to discuss the accident afterwards with anyone other than the Police and your car accident lawyer.
  • Take detailed photos of the accident scene, the damage to any vehicles, and any of your visible injuries. If you can do so safely, take photos from different angles so that the position of the vehicles in the roadway is clearly visible in your photos.
  • Gather the names and contact information for any witnesses. Witnesses who saw the accident happen are key and can help support your car accident claim.
  • Exchange insurance and contact information with the other parties involved in the accident. It is always best to take a photo of the license plates of the other vehicles involved and their driver’s license, insurance card, and registration, to avoid any written transcription mistakes.
  • Look around and make note of the location of any home doorbell camera or commercial surveillance cameras. These cameras may have captured video of the accident occurring and can ultimately help prove liability.
  • Seek immediate medical attention from paramedics at the scene of the accident, and at the hospital emergency room. Your injuries may not be immediately apparent right after the accident but can become much more so in the hours and days after the car accident. Seeking immediate medical treatment at the scene of the accident is imperative for your health and well-being and will strengthen any personal injury claim you may have.
  • Talk to an experienced Car Accident Lawyer. It is best to discuss your car accident with a skilled car accident lawyer. Insurance companies are not there to advocate for fair and just compensation for your injuries. It’s just the opposite. Insurance companies have a team of attorneys and claims adjusters who focus on minimizing your injuries and paying out as little as possible to settle your claim. Therefore, attempting to negotiate with an insurance company on your own is unwise. Hiring a skilled car accident lawyer will ensure that your claim is handled by an expert with deep knowledge of the law. Claims handled by car accident lawyers can resolve for much higher settlement amounts than one could obtain choosing to represent themselves.

It is always best to talk to an experienced car accident lawyer immediately after seeking medical treatment for your injuries. A skilled car accident lawyer will give you sound legal advice on your car accident case, investigate your car accident, and position your case for the best possible outcome.

In addition to the above steps to be taken after a car accident, there are certain steps you should not take:

  • Do not talk to the other driver’s insurance company (or give a recorded statement to your own insurance company) or the other party involved in the accident. Do not make any statements unless your car accident lawyer is present. Refer all insurance company inquiries directly to your car accident lawyer.
  • Do not discard damaged property such as a helmet, bicycle, ripped or bloodied clothing, broken eyeglasses, car parts, or other damaged personal items. These items are evidence to support your claim.
  • Do not provide a recorded statement to any insurance company. You are not legally obligated to do so without your lawyer present.
  • Do not speak with any insurance adjuster or other insurance company representatives. An insurance adjuster may be friendly but is certainly not your friend. Their job is to look after the insurance company’s bottom line and pay as little as possible to settle your car accident claim. It is best if you refer insurance adjusters directly to your lawyer.

Car accidents are an unfortunate and stressful event but following the above steps can help you recover just compensation for your injuries and property damage and obtain a favorable outcome for your personal injury claim.

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