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Unfortunately, the rate of auto accidents around the U.S. makes getting into an accident probable, not just possible. For most drivers, collisions are a matter of when, not if. Whether you’ve just been in an accident and are looking for advice moving forward or preemptively researching what to do after a car accident, start here. The most important thing you can do is to speak to a Orange County car accident attorney. If possible, take the following steps as well.
Do not believe the misconception that it’s better to handle a car accident without involving the police. This is generally a bad idea and can even be illegal depending on the severity of the accident. In California, the Department of Motor Vehicles says you have to call 911 and report the accident if it caused injuries, deaths, or property damage exceeding $1,000. Failing to report your accident could result in criminal charges.
Calling the police isn’t just the lawful thing to do – it’s the best way to protect your rights. Involving the police gives you an official report of what happened, who caused the crash, and what injuries/damages it caused. Get to a safe location, check for injuries, and call 911 while still at the scene of the wreck. Request an ambulance if necessary. When police arrive, make sure to give them a statement with your side of the story. Calling the police can prevent the other driver from giving you false information and getting away with causing the crash.
If you’re in a state of mind and/or physical condition that allows you to do so, document your crash from the beginning. Take down important facts about your collision, such as the other driver’s name, vehicle description, license plate numbers, and car insurance information. Write down what you think happened while the details are fresh on your mind. Take photographs of the scene of the accident, property damage, and injuries. Get at least one wide-angle shot of the entire scene.
Keep copies of crash-related documents, including the official police report, medical records, x-rays and scans, treatment prescriptions, and all communications between you and insurance companies. Create a folder or binder where you keep your accident-related documents and information. The more facts you collect about your case, the better your chances of a successful suit. A lawyer can help you preserve and collect evidence regarding your car accident.
Do not risk your personal health and wellbeing by failing to go to the hospital after a car accident. Refusing or delaying medical care could significantly impact your ability to recover – both physically and financially. Failing to go to the hospital right away could signal to insurance companies that your injuries weren’t very serious. It could also give insurers a reason to believe you could have made your injuries worse by delaying medical care.
See a doctor after a car accident even if you think you’re okay. You could have hidden or delayed symptoms that go unnoticed due to the adrenaline of the crash. Never tell police officers or insurance companies you don’t have injuries until you’ve seen a doctor and confirmed this fact. Instead, say you aren’t sure. Stating you didn’t suffer harm when you have hidden injuries can hurt your chances of securing compensation later.
Perhaps the most important thing to do after a car accident is to contact a local car accident lawyer. An Orange County personal injury lawyer can walk you through the other steps to take after a crash, acting as your trusted confidant and counselor. Hiring a lawyer ensures you do everything possible to protect your rights and strengthens your case right from the beginning. An attorney can get more for your car accident insurance claim in California, as well as take your case to court if necessary for better compensation.