Knowing what to do after a car accident that involves personal injury can go a long way toward your overall health, happiness, and financial security. Californians who suffer crash-related injuries must take certain steps to protect themselves. It can be difficult to think with a level head after suffering personal injuries. Keep this checklist handy to help.
1. Collect Information
In the immediate aftermath of a collision, gathering information may be the last thing on your mind. You’ve suffered injuries that may be extensive, and, of course, seeking medical help will be your top priority. If you can, however, collect certain facts about the crash; this can help you in the future. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to do so on your behalf if you have to go to the emergency room. Information to collect includes the names of all involved, the other driver’s insurance info, the location of the crash, how it occurred, and photographs if possible.
2. Call the Authorities
Don’t let the other driver convince you not to involve the police or insurance companies. Dealing with car accident damages “under the table” can lead to issues with fraud or dishonest drivers. In California, one must legally report a car accident to police if it results in personal injuries, deaths, or property damage in excess of $1,000. Call the police if you’ve been injured, and request an ambulance if necessary. An official police record of the crash and your injuries can serve as significant evidence in a future claim or trial.
3. Go to the Hospital
Always seek professional medical care after a car accident. Some injuries, such as concussions, will show delayed symptoms days or even weeks after the event. It is imperative to go to the hospital as soon as you can after a collision, even if you don’t feel injured. Medical tests and professional attention can diagnose hidden injuries and prevent delayed treatment. Failing to seek prompt medical care can show a judge or jury that your injuries must not have been very painful or severe.
4. Keep a Car Accident File
Keep copies of your police report, medical records, treatment plans, insurance claims, and all other documents relating to your car accident in an organized file. Keep all bills and receipts, as well as prices estimates to repair property damage. Include any photographs of the accident or your injuries. The more information you gather, the easier an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit will be. Messy, disorganized files with missing evidence can delay settlements and even hurt your chances of financial recovery.
5. Retain a Personal Injury Attorney
In California, one of the best things injured car accident victims can do is to go to a personal injury attorney with their cases. Car accidents more often than not involve negligence – a drunk driver, texting and driving, or other careless act. If this is the case, you could be eligible for sizable recovery through the civil court system. Give your lawyer the file containing all the documents you’ve gathered since your accident. The attorney will be able to tell if your personal injuries have merit for a claim and then help you with the filing process.