The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2012, there were a total of 5,615,000 accidents; the good news is that nearly 4 million of those were property damage only. Still, the chances of being involved in a car accident are extremely high, especially in Los Angeles or Orange County where there are millions of drivers on the road at any given moment.
If that day comes and you are involved in an accident, your car can be totaled, you can suffer severe injuries and emotions can run high. Car accidents are scary events, they can cause your adrenaline to rush and the intensity of the moment can make it difficult to think clearly.
At the Law Office of Leonard Matsuk, we recommend educating yourself ahead of time, this way you can be mentally prepared for handling the aftermath of an accident. What you do at the accident scene and soon afterward can have an impact on the outcome of your personal injury claim; therefore, it's best to learn what to do immediately after you are involved in a car accident.
Don't Flee the Scene
Never flee the scene of an accident, even if it was not your fault. If you leave, particularly in an accident where someone was injured or killed, you can face serious criminal charges for hit and run.
Check for Injuries
If you are physically capable, make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay, even before checking for property damage. If one of the parties is unconscious or has neck or back pain, do not move them unless a hazard requires moving them.
Call Emergency Services
If the accident involves bodily injuries or death, you need to call emergency services (for an ambulance), and your next call is to the police. If the police do arrive at the scene, ask them to file a police report, and be sure to obtain the name and badge numbers of the officers who arrived at the scene.
Exchange Driver Information
This is a no-brainer, but often overlooked in high-stress situations. Be sure to exchange the following information with the other driver:
- Name, address, and contact number
- Driver's license number
- Vehicle registration
- License plate number
- Insurance information
Do Not Admit Fault
Whatever you do, refrain from admitting fault and do not apologize for anything at the accident scene. For example, if you say, "I'm sorry for hitting you, is everyone okay?" you may be admitting legal liability for the accident and this statement can haunt you during the claims process.
Document the Accident Scene
If your injuries will allow, document the accident scene. Since many people have Smartphones, they can easily take pictures of the vehicle damage, skid marks, and any other conditions that may have contributed to the accident. You can also take video, which can be very useful evidence. Also, talk to witnesses, and get their names and numbers if possible.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Promptly contact your insurance company and tell them you've been in an accident. Obtain any police report filed so you can show who broke the traffic laws and who was legally at fault.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
If you were injured in the accident, it is best to retain an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney is instrumental in ensuring that you receive just financial compensation.
Were you injured in a car accident? Contact the Law Office of Leonard Matsuk for excellent legal advocacy. Attorney Matsuk is AV Rated® by Martindale-Hubbell®, and he is selected for inclusion in
California's Super Lawyers®, an honor bestowed upon no more than 5% of attorneys in the state.
At our firm, you will receive personalized legal representation, and you will never be treated like just another case number.