Take the Right Steps in the Early Stages of a Car Accident Case

Car Accident Case

The decisions you make in the moments, hours and days after a California car accident can have important consequences for your legal and financial interests. A good way to protect yourself if you have been in a car accident is to know what steps to take and in what order.

Until you have the chance to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer, you’ll be acting on your own. Any serious mistakes you make can expose you to criminal punishment as well as hurting your chance of recovering damages from the other driver’s insurer or your own.

Six Essentials After a California Car Accident

The following recommendations will help you avoid problems while protecting your legal interests in the immediate aftermath of an auto accident in the Bay Area. Then it’s a good idea to discuss your situation with an attorney who can provide additional advice about your legal options. Contact the law firm of Weber & Nierenberg in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose or San Rafael for a free consultation.

Here’s what you need to do right after a car accident in California:

    1. Stop and Stay at the Scene. If you hit something or someone, stop. If someone hits you, stop. Leaving the scene of an accident until you take care of some essential business is a serious crime and could not only create major problems for your license, it could send you to jail.

 

    1. Do What You Can for Injured Persons. Before you leave an accident scene, you and the other driver (if any) should check to see if anyone was hurt and do what you can to help – call 911, render first aid, or take an injured person to the hospital as soon as possible. Don’t worry about getting sued for injuries caused by your efforts in an emergency situation — California’s Good Samaritan Law will protect you from liability.

 

    1. Exchange Information With the Other Driver. California law requires you to give the following information to the other driver: your name, address and phone number; your auto insurance carrier and contact information; and your license plate number. You have the right to receive the same information concerning any other driver involved with the accident. If any witnesses stopped, get their names and phone numbers, too. Do not express opinions about whether you are hurt, who caused the crash, or any other matters that could later come up as evidence in a lawsuit.
    2. Report the Accident to the DMV. State law requires you to report any motor vehicle accident that results in property damage over $750 or an injury of any kind to a person. You need to complete a DMV Form SR 1 (“Report of Accident Occurring in California”) and send it in within 10 days of the accident. It’s not enough to report the accident to local law enforcement, call 911 or give a statement to a police officer.

 

    1. Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company. Your auto insurance policy requires timely notification before you will be entitled to receive coverage under your own policy. You are also under an obligation to cooperate with your insurer in its investigation of your claim or any claim against you. That doesn’t mean you should answer all questions right away, though. Give your insurer a bare-bones report of the accident right away, then politely decline to give more detailed information until you have consulted with an attorney.

 

    1. If You Were Hurt in Any Way, Get Medical Treatment. In the most serious accidents, victims will be taken be taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency room, then perhaps transferred to a regional trauma center. In the less serious range of accidents, however, people will often be tempted to decline treatment and continue on their way. This is a mistake. Many low-impact car accidents cause apparently minor injuries that will not get better on their own. Get medical treatment right away, if only to get an idea of what symptoms to watch out for.

 

Once you take care of these six essential steps right after a car accident, it’s time to consider legal advice about your insurance coverage, your right to personal injury damages, or your own risk of getting sued. With four offices throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, the personal injury law firm of Weber & Nierenberg has a regional reputation for excellence in client service and case results in car accident litigation of all kinds.

For a free consultation about your legal options following a car accident anywhere in the Bay Area, contact Weber & Nierenberg in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose or San Rafael. To learn more about our lawyers’ experience and our firm’s approach to auto accident claims, see our website at www.weberandnierenberg.com.

Involved in a Lawsuit? Think before You Post on Facebook

San Francisco Personal Injury Car Accident Attorneys

Even though privacy experts have warned people to be careful about what they post on Facebook, hard lessons are still being learned regarding the consequences of using social media. While most of us have heard of creditors and collection agencies using information gathered from social media websites to locate and go after debtors, insurers are doing the same regarding personal injury lawsuits.

In fact, in a 2010 personal injury case, a judge ordered a woman to turn over materials she had protected with privacy settings on her Facebook page. The woman was in the process of suing a furniture store for injuries she claimed she sustained after falling off one of their chairs. The furniture company (Steelcase) claimed the publicly accessible areas of her Facebook page indicated the woman led an active robust life inconsistent with her injury claims.

Surprisingly, the judge agreed and ordered the woman to turn over materials she had protected with privacy settings.

Social Media Privacy – A False Sense of Security?

Most people are under the impression that if they have photos of themselves or other documents set aside behind privacy settings, their privacy is protected. While Facebook sided with the woman in the case above, arguing that the Stored Communications Act protected her from having to turn over the information, the judge argued users do not have an absolute expectation of privacy since in creating a Facebook or MySpace account, the woman consented to sharing information with others – regardless of her privacy settings.

While the judge’s Fourth Amendment reasoning seems less than convincing, it does indicate the degree to which nothing posted online is ever absolutely private.

Personal Injury Lawsuits, Facebook and MySpace

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, motorcycle accident, or pedestrian knockdown, the insurance company responsible for settling or paying your claim might be interested in what you have posted on your Facebook or MySpace page. Pictures of you able-bodied, participating in sports, or hiking along a ridge may be enough to convince a judge the insurer has a right to see what else you have on your Facebook account. While it may not ultimately change the outcome of the case, it could lead to unnecessary delays and the need to spend more time and money on establishing the seriousness of your injuries and prognosis.

Protect Yourself after You’ve been Injured – Contact Weber & Nierenberg

There are a number of things that need to be taken care of after a serious car or bicycle accident. For more information regarding the steps you need to take to protect yourself, contact San Francisco car accident attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg today.

Too Young to Die: How to Avoid Teen Car Accidents and Teenage Auto Accident Fatalities

According to statistics provided by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 35% of teen deaths are caused by traffic accidents. Parents know there is nothing more heartbreaking than having a child cut down in the prime of their life. Teens think they are invulnerable and accidental deaths are things that happen to “other people,” not them.

Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to help your teenager avoid a car accident, which may save lives and heartache. The best courses of action you can take include seatbelt use, education on limiting distractions and a zero tolerance for drug and alcohol use.

Avoiding a Car Accident Fatality by Buckling Your Seatbelt: This is one step you can take long before your teenager obtains their drivers license. It is never too early to establish a good habit, and buckling in every time you get in a car is a good habit to acquire. Many states have seatbelt laws that require everyone in a vehicle to buckle their seatbelt or risk a high fine. Their slogan is “Click it or ticket!” Regardless of whether your state requires seatbelt use, if you get your children in the habit of using their seatbelt every time they get in the car, it will become second nature and could end up saving their lives someday.

Education on Limiting Distractions: Talk to your children about things they need to do when driving. Most importantly, they need to pay attention to the road and there surroundings. That means avoiding as many distractions as possible. There is an old saying in driver’s education that when you are driving, your best friend becomes your worst enemy. That is because friends tend to distract drivers, although not intentionally, they still can be a major distraction, including having a driver turn to face their friend when engaged in a conversation.

Cell phones are another distraction. Although many of know we should not talk or text while driving, even having a cell phone ring or a text message beep often creates a curiosity that can be overwhelming. It is recommended that cell phones be turned off or silenced while driving, or at least give your cell phone to another passenger to tell you who is calling or texting.

Drugs, Drinking and Driving Is a Recipe for Disaster: Drug and alcohol use, especially among teenagers, is one of the leading causes of traffic accident fatalities. According to the NHTSA:

  • Each year thousands of teens are killed or injured in traffic crashes as a result of underage drinking.
  • During 2006, 7,643 15- to 20-year-old drivers and motorcycle operators were involved in fatal traffic crashes across the Nation, 1,377 (18 percent) of whom had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, despite the fact that it is illegal for teens to drive after drinking any alcohol.
  • Nationally, 64 percent of all drivers or motorcycle operators ages 15 to 20 who were involved in fatal traffic crashes and had a BAC of .08 or higher died as a result of the crash.

Teenagers have their whole life ahead of them, help them make sure they don’t do anything to unnecessarily jeopardize their future. Help them to be responsible drivers.

If your teenager is unfortunate enough to get into a car accident and is seriously injured or killed, an experienced attorney can provide you with counsel and representation. Although we represent accident victims and their families, our preference would be to help you avoid an auto accident in the first place.

With more than 26 years of experience, the attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg give every case personal attention from the day of your first consultation until the day your case is resolved by way of settlement or trial.
For more information contact a personal injury lawyer at Weber & Nierenberg by calling 1-866-288-6010
for a free consultation.

 
 
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