Immediately after a car accident, you probably aren’t really thinking about the possible legal battle that lies ahead. Instead, you are most likely focused on other things. The damage to your vehicle and any injuries you may have sustained probably occupy much of your thoughts. However, it is important to consider the legal ramifications immediately, as well, because you should already be taking steps to ensure the best possible legal outcome.
At the Scene
Immediately following a car accident, there are several steps that you should take both for your legal case as well as for your physical well-being.
Stop Your Car
The first thing to do after a car accident is to pull your vehicle off of the roadway. You need to come to a complete stop and shut off your engine.
Check for Injuries
Once you are safely out of the road, you should check to see if you are injured. The adrenaline from the accident will likely mask any pain you might be feeling, so it is necessary to do a physical and visual check of your body. After examining yourself, you should check on any passengers in your vehicle.
If you have no passengers, or if everyone is fine, carefully exit your car. Make your way over to check on anyone else who was involved in the accident. If anyone is hurt, call 911 and follow the instructions of the 911 operator.
Call the Police
If you already called 911, then the police should be heading to the scene. Otherwise, you will want to call the police now because you will need to file an accident report.
Talk to Any Other Drivers Involved
You will need to talk to anyone else involved in the accident to exchange insurance information. While doing so, be careful about what you say. Never admit fault. Avoid talking about the accident in general. You might both be nice, honest people not looking for a legal battle. However, when it comes time to file insurance claims and pay medical bills and repair costs, things can quickly grow contentious.
Gather Information From the Scene
Take pictures of everything and write down information about the cars involved, weather conditions, and anything else that could have played a role in the accident. If there is missing road signage, then the city could be liable for the accident rather than either driver. The more information you can gather, the easier time your lawyer will have when building your case.
File an Accident Report
Talk to the police when they arrive on the scene and file an accident report about what happened. Do not lie in the report, but also don’t incriminate yourself.
After Leaving the Scene
Your job in protecting yourself does not end at the scene of the accident.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you feel like you are uninjured, it is imperative to receive a thorough medical examination after a car accident. Many injuries are hard to immediately detect. Skipping an examination only to discover a problem days later can damage any claim for compensation you might make. The delay provides for reasonable doubt about whether the accident was the cause of the injury or not.
You should let paramedics at the scene check on you, and whether they feel you need to go to the hospital or not, you should still go in to get a more thorough exam. Beyond the legal implications that can arise from delaying medical attention, there can be severe consequences for your health.
Talk to a Lawyer
Contacting a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles is essential to your protection after a crash. A lawyer can immediately begin to advise you. They will help ensure that you don’t do or say anything that could hurt your insurance claim or your legal case should you go to court. If you were clearly not at fault for the accident, the other driver’s insurance company may try to contact you within hours of the incident. Click here to get in touch with a car accident lawyer in LA.
Insurance companies hate to pay out claims and have a whole bag of tricks to get claimants to undervalue their claims or make it so that they can deny them entirely. When you hire a lawyer, they will immediately take over all discussions with the insurance company. That way, you don’t have to worry about messing things up yourself.
Talking to a lawyer early also helps them to begin their investigation into the accident while the evidence is all still fresh.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Whether you were at fault or not, you need to contact your insurance agency after a crash. You don’t have to go into specifics. You just need to report that you were in an accident.
Stay Off Social Media
Do not share anything about your accident on social media. Even if you think your post is harmless, it could end up coming back to bite you. When investigating an accident, social media has become a favorite tool for insurance companies and lawyers looking for material they can use. Even if your settings are private, there is no guarantee that the things you post on your account cannot be used against you in court.
Avoiding social media altogether following an accident is the best course of action. Even a post that you feel is unrelated could be used against you. For instance, if you are making a claim about an injury and pain and suffering, but you put up a post saying, “Feeling great!” a week after the accident, it will cast doubt.
Anytime you are facing the possibility of any sort of legal dispute, the best thing you can do is to keep your mouth shut. The first thing your lawyer will tell you will be not to talk to anyone. Beyond social media, you shouldn’t talk to friends about the accident beyond the basics. You can tell them that you were in an accident and that you are going to live.
Obviously, your spouse needs to know more details, but most people don’t. You can fill others in on all the details once the case has settled.