What to do After an Auto Accident
Long Beach Car Accident Attorney
A large part of Southern California is developed with millions of people driving on the busy roads and highways at any given moment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2011, 32,367 people died in auto accidents and another 2.22 million more people were injured in motor vehicle crashes. Most people in Southern California will be involved in at least one auto accident within their lifetime, and many people will be involved in multiple crashes in their life. Since your chances of being involved in at least one auto accident are relatively high, it's important to learn about what you should and should not do after an accident, and how to conduct yourself should you be involved in a crash.
Being involved in an auto accident is time consuming and stressful, it can make you have to take the entire day off work (or longer) and without an attorney it can involve a lot of haggling with insurance companies. Even the most cautious and considerate drivers can be involved in an auto accident; therefore, it's important to remember the following steps:
Be Prepared Ahead of Time – Make sure you have a disposable camera, a digital camera or a cell phone with picture taking capabilities to document the accident. It's also a good idea to keep a set of cones, warning triangles or even emergency flares in your trunk to help alert traffic. Also make sure you have a notepad and pen to take down the other driver's information.
Right After the Accident – The first priority is to check for injuries and make sure everyone is safe. If someone is injured, call 911 right away. If the accident was minor and your vehicle is in a dangerous location where it can cause other accidents, move the vehicle out of traffic and into a safe location, generally by the side of the road. Activate your vehicle's hazard lights, and set up any cones, warning triangles or flares for safety. Call the police, even if the car accident was minor so you can file an accident report.
Don't Admit Guilt – Whatever you do, do not admit guilt to anyone. Even if you think you are at fault, you could be wrong and admitting guilt to the other driver or the police can cause problems later on when you're trying to get the other driver's insurance company to cover damages. When talking to the other drivers, the police, or the insurance company, stick to the facts and never say you were at fault.
Document the Scene – Providing your injuries are minor, take your cell phone and begin documenting the scene. Take pictures of where the cars landed, any skid marks, the property damage to each vehicle, the road, weather and traffic conditions and any other factor that may have contributed to the accident. Make notes about the accident, your observations and obtain the phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident.
Exchange Information – If your injuries aren't severe, be sure to exchange information with the other driver. Such information should include: driver's license numbers, insurance information, contact information including name, address, phone number and email address, and license plate numbers.
File an Accident Report – Make sure you file an accident report; these are generally available at your local police station or at the Department of Motor Vehicles website. When you have a police report, it helps insurance companies expedite the claims process.
Notifying the Insurance Companies – It's important that you notify your insurance carrier right away after an accident. Even though it's the other driver's responsibility to notify their insurance company about the accident, it's not a bad idea for you to contact them too. Often times motorists who cause accidents are reluctant to report them; this is why it's so important to collect the insurance information from the at-fault driver at the scene of the accident.
You should go ahead and inform the other driver's insurer about the accident and disclose your property damage and your injuries. Remember to relay only the facts of the accident, even if you believe the other driver is at fault. The police will determine who is at fault and the insurer will make a determination of fault based on the recommendation made by the police, not by the commentary made by the drivers involved. Even though you don't feel the accident was your fault, you should contact your own insurance company right away. This establishes that you made an honest and good-faith attempt to report the accident and this can help you out if the other driver's insurance carrier denies liability for the accident.
Contact the Law Office of Leonard Matsuk!
After you have done the above steps, the next thing for you to do is contact a Long Beach car accident lawyer from the Law Office of Leonard Matsuk. Our lead attorney Leonard Matsuk not only has over 30 years of experience; he is AV® Preeminent™ rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, a highly respected attorney rating service, with the AV® rating being the highest rating given; he is included in California's selection of Super Lawyers®, which is limited to 5% of California attorneys; and he is rated "Excellent" by Avvo.com. Our top priority is helping you obtain maximum compensation for all of your economic and non-economic losses; to file a claim for compensation,
contact our firm today!