What To Do After An Automobile Accident

Over 6 million car accidents occur each year in the United States. But only 33 percent involve personal injury to the driver or passengers. Car accidents are unexpected and stressful. When you are involved in a car accident, there are certain things you need to do to protect yourself and your interests. The following is a list of some things you should do if you are ever involved in a car accident:

  • Stay calm - Take a deep breath and stay calm. Check for injuries and call an ambulance if necessary.
  • Do not leave the scene - Whether you are involved in a major or minor car accident, always stay on the scene.
  • Stay safe - Make sure to have your emergency lights on. If it is dark, it's best to carry a flashlight in the car to keep you safe while you are waiting for rescue. Unless the vehicles involved interfere with traffic, they should remain where they are.
  • Call the police - Serious injuries or not, it is always best to call to police. Most likely, the police will make a report which will help with filing claims with insurance carriers.
  • Make accurate statements - When an investigating officer is requesting a statement from you, make sure the statement you give is accurate. If you don't know something, it is better to say you don't know rather than trying to guess or making something up. DO NOT speculate, guess or misstate any facts. It is best to make sure that others on the scene are also making accurate statements.
  • Preserve evidence - If you have a camera phone, like most people do, start taking pictures of the scene, visible damage on the vehicles and anything else that may be pertinent.
  • Information - Make sure you obtain the name, address and telephone numbers of all drivers and passengers involved. You should obtain insurance information (carrier, policy number, etc.) as well as driver's license information (DL number, birth date, expiration date, etc.) from all drivers involved.
  • Witnesses - If there are any witnesses, make sure you obtain their name, address and phone number as well.
  • Filing claims - Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Many policies require immediate reporting.
  • Medical care - If you are injured, or feel that you may be injured, you should seek medical attention right away, either at a nearby emergency room or your family physician. In most cases, injuries sustained as a result of a car accident is not apparent, and most clients report feeling the pain a day or two after the accident. If you are unsure, it is best to get checked out to make sure you have not sustained any injuries.
  • Stay organized - Keep a file of all accident related documents, including pictures and information obtained on the scene. Also, keep any receipts for expenses you may incur as a result of the car accident.
  • Other important tips:
    • Do not sign any document unless it is for the police.
    • If the name on the auto registration is different than the driver, ask what the relationship is.
    • Do not admit to fault, or try to get others to admit it was their fault.
    • If possible, do not leave the accident scene until everyone else does.
  • Protect yourself and your interests - The most important thing you can do is to contact a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles right away. Your attorney can help you protect your interests. If an insurance company is insisting that you provide a statement, it is best to ask your attorney whether you should provide such statement. Your attorney will also help you recover property damages for vehicle repairs, and make sure that you are receiving the best medical treatment for any injuries sustained. Personal injury attorneys generally work on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay anything out of pocket unless your attorney has recovered a compensation for your injuries.