The aftermath of being involved in a drunk driving auto accident can be devastating. If you have been involved in a DUI car accident you may face serious medical issues coupled with significant damage to your property, particularly your own automobile.
There are occasions when the guilty party or parties are contested, and that’s when car accident victims start to wonder, “Should I hire attorney after a car crash?” There’s no easy answer, but before you settle your own insurance claim, consider these possibilities.
Car accident liability is determined by legal concepts that are unique in every region.
Californians who are involved in automobile or motorcycle accidents may find…
The average driver experiences three to four car accidents in their lifetime, so it’s smart to be prepared if it ever happens to you.
The car has come to a halt. The wheels have finally stopped spinning. There is broken glass everywhere. You don’t think you’re injured, but you’re still in a daze. What should you do?
A car accident is one of the most terrifying everyday occurrences in existence. In 2016, 206 people died in car accidents in Los Angeles, and even more were seriously injured. The average driver experiences three to four car accidents in their lifetime, so it’s smart to be prepared if it ever happens to you. If you’ve never been through an extremely intense situation, you might be unsure about how to respond. Having a plan can help you function effectively when it matters most.
The Steps for Handling a Crash: Car Accident Guide for Los Angeles
1. Assessing Your Injuries on the Scene
Step one is to assess your injuries. There are two phases to this step. The first takes place on the scene. You will determine if you can move without pain and whether you can get yourself out of the car and away from the road. Staying in your vehicle on the road leaves you in danger of being hit by oncoming traffic. It is also important to move your car off of the road if you’re able to. However, moving your car only applies if it’s a mild fender-bender and the car is still in operation.
In most cases, someone will have witnessed the accident and either called emergency services or stopped to help. Most people are kind and compassionate, and you might be surprised at how many are willing to help a stranger. If someone does stop to help, be sure to ask them to stick around to give a witness statement to police.
If no one is around, do your best to remove yourself from the car. If you’re trapped, see if you can reach your phone to call for help; if you can’t, try putting your emergency lights on, turning your high-beam headlights on and off, or holding down the horn to attract attention from anyone who might be nearby.
2. Handling the Legal Aspects
If you are conscious and relatively unharmed after the crash, you can handle some of the legal aspects that will help you later. Be sure to report the accident to police, giving them as much information as you can. This includes things like license-plate numbers, vehicle descriptions and everything you remember from the crash. If the other drivers remained on the scene, be sure to write down names, phone numbers, and insurance information.
If the other drivers left the scene, be sure to let the police know everything you remember about the vehicles. Other eyewitnesses will need to describe what happened to police as well.
Before you leave the scene or allow the vehicles to be towed away, it’s a good idea to take as many pictures as you can. The ability to easily take pictures is one of the benefits of the technological age. Take advantage of that and ensure that you’re covered in case anyone tries to make an false claim regarding the damage to your vehicle or anything else that happened during the accident.
3. Visiting the Hospital
It’s very important to see a doctor after an accident. You are not the best judge of whether you’re injured. Shock is a powerful thing, and some dangerous internal injuries will not necessarily cause a great deal of pain or discomfort at first. Therefore, an ambulance ride to the hospital is best. Attempting to drive yourself could result in a worse disaster if you were to pass out behind the wheel. If you don’t want to call an ambulance, please have a friend or family member drive you to the hospital rather than driving yourself.
Another important reason to visit the hospital right away is your legal case. If you end up realizing you’re injured a day or two later, an opposing legal team might argue that you received the injuries another way. It’s important to document that the injuries came from the accident and get a diagnosis so that any further complications or issues that occur can also be attributed to the accident and included in your legal case.
4. Filing an Insurance Claim
Your next step is talking to your insurance company. You will need to get your vehicle assessed and possibly repaired. An assessment usually requires working with a mechanic your insurance company approves of. You will need both written documentation of the damages and an estimate for what the repairs may cost.
If you took photos of the scene, you should give them to your insurance company at this time, along with police reports and any other relevant information.
5. Contacting an Attorney
It is very important to discuss the situation with a qualified attorney right away. You might not think you have a case, but these things can be complex, and only someone with experience and education can thoroughly determine your case potential. Even if you decide not to follow through with a lawsuit, it is good to know your options. Speaking to someone right away will provide you with more opportunities ensure justice is served later on. What if one of the other drivers acts nice on the scene and promises to handle their legal responsibilities, but then later, they refuse to answer the phone or respond to your insurance company? The many factors that can come up after a car accident make having an attorney in your corner very important.
Another reason it’s important to talk to an attorney right away is the time factor. If you wait too long to file a claim, you might lose the opportunity. In California, you can file a claim within two years from the time of injury or one year from the date the injury is discovered. This may seem like plenty of time, but the longer you wait, the weaker your case will be. The only reason the time allowance is there is because certain injuries or complications don’t present themselves until later. If you have a medical assessment of your injuries, file a claim right away.
6. Avoiding Shady Scenarios
Be sure to avoid discussing the accident with anyone other than the police, your legal team, your insurance company and perhaps your mechanic. If you get any strange phone calls inquiring about what happened, don’t say anything. Help with a California car accident is available, but the chances that anyone calling you at home actually wants to help are slim. If you get a call from the attorney or insurance company of one of the other drivers, refer them to your legal team. It’s possible that they might try to bait you into saying something you should not.
7. Expecting a Slow Process
If you choose to move forward with your lawsuit, expect it to take some time. Your attorney will need to go over medical records, police reports and other data from the accident. If you have serious injuries that require multiple surgeries or other forms of ongoing treatment, it could take a while to thoroughly assess the medical damages as well. It’s unfortunate, but the aftermath of a car accident can take some time to figure out. This is why it’s so important to have a qualified legal team working for you.
Not only will an experienced attorney know how to streamline the process and focus on the aspects that matter most, but they will provide you with the best chances of winning your case and earn a settlement for you, that will help you move forward with your life.
If you’ve been through a California car accident and need help from a personal injury attorney, please contact us today. Our team is ready to help you during this difficult time.