Drivers often feel overwhelmed after a car accident, particularly in the immediate aftermath. However, a driver’s actions in the first 48 hours following a car accident can be critical to his or her car accident claim. Know what to expect from the process and what steps all drivers should take following a car accident in California.
1. Check on the Safety of All Other Drivers and Passengers
The first thing that all drivers should do following a car accident is checked on the well-being of all others involved in the accident. Assess all passengers and other drivers, and call emergency medical services as necessary. While waiting for first responders and police to arrive, drivers should pull their vehicles over to the side of the road and allow traffic to pass, if possible.
2. Don’t Admit Fault
One of the most important things any driver can do following a car accident is to refrain from admitting fault. It’s important to ask if the other driver is okay, but don’t go any further than securing medical attention for any injured parties. Even something as simple as an apology may be taken as admitting fault for an accident.
3. Do Exchange Insurance and Contact Information
Each driver should, however, exchange insurance information and other relevant contact information while waiting for police to arrive.
This information includes:
- Name, phone numbers, and addresses
- Insurance policy numbers
- Driver’s license number
- License plate and registration information
4. Give Details to the Responding Officer, If Possible
Sometimes, a driver’s injuries will be too severe to wait for police to arrive. Motorists should give as much detail as possible to the responding officer regarding the accident: for example, was the other driver speeding? Texting? Running a red light? Be thorough, but not angry or overly emotional.
5. Seek Medical Treatment
Anyone who sustains an injury in an accident, passenger or driver, should seek appropriate medical care within the first 48 hours after the accident. A medical professional will provide documentation of any victim’s injuries, which could be invaluable to a personal injury claim. An injured person should report any and all symptoms he or she is experiencing in the hours and days following an accident.
6. Talk to Eyewitnesses, If Possible
At the accident scene, drivers should jot down the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses. A personal injury attorney can use this information to learn more about the accident, and may even call on them to provide testimony that helps establish fault in an accident.
7. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
One of the most important things anyone involved in a car accident can do within the first 48 hours following a car accident is to contact a personal injury attorney. In the aftermath of a car accident, an attorney may be the only party who has an injured victim’s best interests at heart. An insurance company wants to pay as little on each claim as possible, which could lead to a low settlement offer for those most affected by the accident.
A car accident attorney, on the other hand, fights for the rights of injured parties after a car accident. He or she will fight for fair compensation under the law and within the terms of an at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Any driver who commits negligence in California will be civilly liable for the damages he or she causes. Negotiating with his or her insurance company effectively could mean the difference between fair compensation for damages and a settlement that does not reflect the full extent of a person’s injuries, pain, and suffering.