An auto accident can leave you shocked and confused. But the quicker you jump into action, the more you can do to protect your health and your legal claim.
Your first priority should be your own safety and the well-being of other people involved in the crash. If you suspect anyone has suffered serious injuries, call 911 immediately.
In addition, follow these important tips:
- Remain calm. Besides physical pain, you may feel a lot of emotions after an auto accident — fear, anger, frustration. Keep a clear head and remain calm so you can act decisively to protect yourself and your loved ones.
- Keep everybody safe. Make sure other drivers can see the crash site and that you and your passengers are out of harm’s way.
- Call the relevant law enforcement department. A police report offers your insurance company — and the court if you sue — unbiased information about the accident.
- Be careful what you say. Even if you think you contributed to the crash, don’t admit fault. In reality, you may not be legally to blame.
- Take photographs of the collision and scene. Most likely your cellphone has a camera function. Take photographs of the accident scene, such as the condition and position of the vehicles, roadway debris, skid marks and anything that might indicate the cause of the crash.
- Obtain appropriate medical care. If you have any doubt about your medical condition, call 911 at the scene. Even if you think the accident is minor, seek medical attention. Sometimes, symptoms of injuries do not manifest for several hours or days — for example, in some cases of brain and spinal cord damages.
- Contact your insurance agency. The sooner you contact your insurance agency, the sooner it can begin resolving your claim for damages. Your policy may also have a time requirement for filing a claim.
- Consult with a Southern California auto accident lawyer. California sets a two-year statute of limitation for most injury claims. You waive the right to file a lawsuit if you miss that deadline. In addition, you may weaken your claim by waiting to pursue compensation. Consult with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney in California as soon as practicable.