The risk of a car crash unfortunately exists every time people drive in motor vehicles. Because of this, you should be prepared for the possibility of being involved in an auto accident. Being prepared will allow you to properly deal with any insurance company or auto insurance claim. Being prepared will allow you to properly deal with the possibility of the other driver falsely blaming you for your accident. Being prepared will allow you to act correctly and stay safe at the accident scene.
Here is what you should do in this difficult, stress-inducing situation, including what you should do regarding first responders, insurance companies, drivers of other vehicles involved and injuries.
What Should I Do Immediately Post-Collision?
If it is possible, the first thing to do is to move your vehicle to a well-lit, safe location. This location, ideally, will be a public location where you and the other driver are both visible to others.
This is especially relevant if you’ve been hit from behind and you think you may have fallen victim to an accident that was staged.
If your vehicle might create a roadway hazard, definitely move your vehicle, perhaps even onto a sidewalk.
You should keep calm and alert other vehicles around you to your presence with your hazard lights. Even if you are confused or disoriented, you should try your best to have and stick to a plan to make your way through the incident so you can preserve your legal rights in a potential car insurance claim.
If you’re unable to move your vehicle, move yourself and anyone else involved to a safe location away from where the accident occurred. However, do not leave the scene of the accident.
Secure The Vulnerable
Make sure anyone vulnerable, like the disabled, seniors, pets and children, are safe and sound. It’s easy to panic after an accident and make a mistake, and doing so could cause the vulnerable to become injured.
If you’ve gotten into a minor collision like a fender bender, don’t leave the vulnerable in a locked, hot car following the collision. You wouldn’t leave them in such a car to do something like go into a store, so don’t do it after an accident either.
If you have kids in the car young enough to require car seats when you’re in an accident, don’t take them out of their car seats following the accident. They might be injured without you realizing it. Let first responders take them out of the car seats and check them for injuries.
Ensure kids stay in the vehicle when safe to prevent them from being injured. Do this for seniors with ambulatory problems or anyone else incapacitated, even when they are agitated or frightened.
Call For Law Enforcement Or An Ambulance
Once you have reached a safe location and put your vehicle in a safe location, check yourself and others in your car for injuries. Call 911 if anyone displays even minor injuries after the accident. Medical assistance should be required immediately for yourself and for others, especially if children or elders are injured.
If you’re not sure where you are at the moment, have someone else nearby tell you where you are when you end up calling 911.
You’ll need to provide 911 with your name and possibly other information to identify yourself. You may also need to provide the city, the street you’re closest to, the address you’re closest to, mile markings, traffic signals or signs, directions or other things to assist them in finding you easily and quickly. Do not hang up until the dispatcher tells you to.
Filing A Police Report
In California, you must report any accident leading to injury or death to the CHP or the police within 24 hours. In addition, you must report any accident leading to injury, death or more than $1,000 in property damage to the DMV within 10 days.
If the CHP or police cannot visit the accident scene, need to leave the scene before they take an accident report, do not show up to the scene since nobody was injured or the vehicles involved aren’t blocking traffic, you should not panic. Visit the nearest police station to file a police report as soon as you can.
Getting a copy of the police report is one of the most important things you can do. The police report can help you obtain financial compensation in the event you’re injured and you file a claim, and it can protect you in the event you’re sued.
What You Say To Other Drivers Can Impact Your Auto Insurance Claim
Figure out if it’s safe for you to talk to other drivers, as well as if you can do so in a calm manner, without the help of police.
Be especially cautious if it appears road rage may have been involved.
If you determine it is safe to talk with other drivers, conceal and secure valuables before you leave your vehicle.
Keep conversation with others at the scene of the accident, especially other drivers, to the bare minimum necessary. What you say at the scene of the accident can and will be used against you during the claims process.
Things you should especially avoid doing at the accident scene include:
- Making admissions
- Expressing anger directed at other drivers
- Blaming other drivers
- Accepting blame
- Discussing fault for the accident
- Discussing possible injuries
- Discussing how much insurance you carry
Do Not Make Any Deals At The Accident Scene
Do not make a side deal with any other driver to pay or accept cash regarding the accident rather than going through the insurance claim process, even when other drivers offer lots of money or claim they don’t have insurance. Making deals at the scene of the accident might expose you to significant future expenses.
Collect The Proper Information
Things you should always keep in your vehicle include your insurance information, insurance proof, vehicle registration, medical information like your doctor’s name and any known allergies, and similar info regarding pets or loved ones.
Keep conversation with others at the scene of the accident to only the bare minimum needed to exchange documents. Only exchange insurance information and contact information. Don’t say anything else which might incriminate you later and negatively impact insurance claims.
You should collect:
- Contact information
- Insurance company
- The other driver’s insurance card
- Insurance policy number
- Driver’s license numbers
- Model, color and type of vehicles involved
- Accident location
Take video and photos of any vehicle damage to all vehicles involved. Get witnesses’ contact information. Write down how you remember the accident occurring as soon as you can as memories quickly fade.
Take Photographs From Many Angles
Take pictures of every side of each vehicle involved. Ensure pictures show each of every vehicle’s four corners. Get photos of all damage and any fluids that are leaking.
Make Sure Pictures Show Scale
Make sure your pictures demonstrate a sense of scale. As an example, when photographing damage on your vehicle, use objects like keys or coins to provide a sense of scale.
Take Photos From Multiple Distances
If it is safe and possible, start taking pictures from 10 feet away or more, then take more pictures as you gradually get closer.
Take Photos Of The Area Around You
Take pictures of the road the accident occurred on, as well as any applicable traffic signals, street signs, gouge marks or skid marks.
Get Photos Of Damage To Vehicle Interiors
Don’t just take pictures of exterior vehicle damage. Get photos of things like shattered glass and deployed airbags.
Get Photos Of Injuries
If possible, take photos of any injuries. These photos could be useful in the event you file a claim to recover compensation for injuries.
Photograph Anything Else That Might Be Important
These might include things that could have contributed to an accident such as debris, construction or potholes.
Take Pictures Of License Plates
You should photograph the license plate of every vehicle involved in the accident as well as the license plate of any witnesses to the accident. Insurance companies and the police may find these photos useful.
Take Pictures Of Insurance Documents
Get a picture of the insurance cards of any drivers involved. Ensure these pictures show the policy number and the company.
Take A Picture Of The Police Report
Insurance companies may eventually require certified copies of police reports, and these might take up to weeks to acquire. However, in the mean time, while waiting to acquire these, photos of police report could help hasten the insurance claims process.
Know The Following About Dealing With The Insurance Company
Insurance companies are going to want to know every detail about your accident, if any police report ended up being filed, if any witnesses were present, and more.
You should consider making sure your smartphone has your auto insurance company’s mobile app installed on it prior to any collision occurring. Doing so can make the claims process go faster. By having the mobile app, you might be able to obtain roadside assistance, quickly have a tow truck sent to the accident scene and quickly obtain a rental car.
Save any medical records and any bills, including medical bills, connected with the accident. These bills may be necessary later for court or claims.
Receive Medical Attention As Soon As Possible
If you or your loved one were not injured so badly that an immediate, emergency trip to the hospital wasn’t necessary after the accident, you should still seek medical attention as soon as you can after your accident. The reason why is that it is very common for accident victims to not realize they are injured until days, weeks or even months after an accident. This is largely because injuries can be masked at the scene of an accident by endorphins and adrenaline.
In addition, not only can not having any injured identified and treated as soon as possible have negative consequences on your health, but it can also have negative consequences on your ability to receive financial compensation for your injuries. Insurance companies don’t want to compensate you for your injuries. If you wait too long to have your injuries documented by a medical professional, insurance companies can claim that your injuries weren’t caused by your accident and refuse to pay you for your injuries. For this reason, it is absolutely vital to obtain medical attention as soon as possible after any accident, even if you don’t think you were injured at all.
Call Nadrich & Cohen If You Or A Loved One Were Injured
If you or a loved one were injured in the accident, you need to call experienced lawyers if you wish to obtain all of the financial compensation you deserve and are entitled to under California law. Nadrich & Cohen have been handling car accident cases since 1990 and have recovered over $400,000,000 for clients. We have the experience and expertise to obtain the largest possible financial recovery on your behalf.
There are two primary reasons why you should obtain the representation of experienced lawyers after being injured in a car accident:
- The other driver’s insurer simply will not pay you what you’re entitled to if you don’t have a lawyer
- It’s very dangerous for you to talk with insurance adjusters and you should let a lawyer do this for you
Insurers Won’t Pay You What You’re Entitled To If You Don’t Have An Attorney
Under California law, drivers who injure you via negligence are financially liable for your injuries. This means that their insurance companies are legally obligated to pay you for all of your damages related to your accident, up to the insurance policy limits.
However, do not assume that insurance companies will pay you what they’re legally obligated to pay you just because of this legal obligation. In fact, they simply won’t unless they’re made to.
The insurance company’s liability for your injuries is only enforceable through civil law. That means the only way to make the insurance company completely pay for your injuries is to sue them. However, the insurance company has a lot of money. They can afford to hire very good lawyers to represent them against you. This means you cannot win a lawsuit against them unless you have very good lawyers yourself, lawyers like Nadrich & Cohen. Insurance companies know you can’t sue them and win if you’re not represented by an attorney. So, if you don’t have legal representation, insurance companies simply will not offer you what you deserve and are entitled to for your injuries. They will simply offer you a tiny fraction of what you are actually entitled to, literally daring you to file a lawsuit over the low-ball offer.
Studies have demonstrated that injury victims who hire lawyers end up recovering far more financial compensation for their injuries than injury victims who do not hire lawyers, even after legal fees are accounted for.
Insurance companies typically keep files on lawyers. They refer to these files when claimants hire lawyers to represent them. When insurance companies see we’re representing claimants, they look at their files on us and see that the claimants mean business. They see that when Nadrich & Cohen goes to court, Nadrich & Cohen wins. They see that it’s a waste of time and money to take Nadrich & Cohen on in court. They see that it’s smarter and cheaper to offer the claimant the full value of their damages out of court rather than go to court, lose, end up paying the full value of the claimant’s damages anyways and end up paying lawyers to futilely represent them in court. Virtually every single one of our cases is settled out of court for this reason.
The best way you can make sure you recover all of the financial compensation you’re entitled to for the injuries of you or your loved one is to hire experienced lawyers like Nadrich & Cohen to represent you after an accident.
It’s Unwise For You To Talk To Insurance Adjusters
Talking with insurance adjusters, especially the ones representing other drivers, is one of the worst things you can do after being injured in an accident. The reason why is that insurance companies train their adjusters to trick injury victims into saying the wrong things while they are being recorded. Once injury victims are successfully tricked into saying these things, the value of their claims plummet. This lets the insurance companies preserve their profit margins at the expense of injury victims.
You should not assume that just because you now know this information, you can avoid falling for their tricks. They can twist the tiniest little thing you say into knots to use it against you.
For example, an insurance adjuster might start a conversation by asking a seemingly innocent question such as “How are you today?” You may reflexively answer “fine” or “good” without even thinking about it when asked this question. However, that would be a mistake. The insurance adjuster will then proceed to use that answer as “evidence” that your injuries are not as severe as you are claiming on your claim. As you can see, saying the tiniest little thing, no matter how innocent it may seem to you, can severely impact your ability to recover compensation for your injuries.
It is quite dangerous for you to talk with insurance companies after an accident. You should let a lawyer handle this for you. Call Nadrich & Cohen today for a free consultation so we can handle all communications with insurance companies for you so you don’t have to worry about incriminating yourself and damaging the value of your claim. You can also text us from this page, or you can also fill out the free case evaluation form on this page. Contact us now so we can recover for you the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries after your accident.