When you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you don’t want to jeopardize your rights by failing to preserve critical evidence or making statements that can be used against you. In the uncertain moments following a collision, you can easily lose track of your thoughts and make crucial mistakes. This article outlines the steps you need to take after a car crash to protect your rights.
Before You Leave the Scene of the Accident
The first thing you need to do after an accident is verify the extent of any injuries to you or your passengers. Check immediately to see that everyone is conscious and can move under their own power. If a passenger is unconscious or cannot move, leave them alone unless they are in danger of further injury. EMT personnel will be better equipped to take care of them. If anyone is unconscious or need immediate medical attention, call 911.
Your next step should be to move your vehicle out of harm’s way, if possible. Your safety is the most important factor at this point. Don’t worry about being able to show how the accident occurred. Accident reconstruction specialists can put the pieces together even if the vehicles have been moved.
If you have not yet called law enforcement officers, telephone them and stay in your car until they arrive (unless it is unsafe to do so). You may have a lot of nervous energy after the accident and may be inclined to talk more than you should or want to. Don’t spend unnecessary time in conversation with other drivers. You may say something that will be held against you in court.
Once police officers arrive, gather relevant information from them, such as name, badge number and jurisdiction. Provide them with any information they request, including identification and proof of insurance. Do not volunteer information, but provide clear answers to their questions.
Before you leave the scene of the accident, you should also ask other drivers for important information, including name, address, phone number, insurance provider and policy number. If you have a camera, you should take as many pictures as you can, showing damages to other vehicles or other property, personal injuries, skid marks and important road signs or signals.
After You Leave the Scene of the Accident
Your first inclination after leaving the scene of the accident may be to contact your insurance carrier. Instead, you should call an experienced personal injury lawyer. Insurance companies have a vested interest in paying as little as possible for your injury. An attorney will put your needs first, seeking full and fair compensation for your losses. Your attorney may also act as your liaison with your insurer, making certain you get full and fair compensation for all your losses.
If you have not sought medical care at the scene of the accident, you may want to take yourself to the hospital or a clinic, so that you get a documented report of any immediately observable injuries. If your injuries are minor, you should nonetheless set up an appointment with your doctor to get a full examination.
You will need to notify your insurance provider in a timely manner. Don’t sign anything, however, without talking with an attorney.
A San Francisco personal injury law firm can help
Unfortunately, no matter how many advances have been made in transportation, accidents still happen and individuals can become seriously injured. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a public transportation accident contact us online or call 866-288-6010 to discuss your injury case.