Many people injured in accidents in San Diego, Oceanside, Vista or anywhere else in North County can take action in the immediate aftermath to protect their health and their rights. It’s not unusual for clients to say they regret not knowing what to do after an accident. Anything you say at the accident scene can have a significant impact on your personal injury claim. Most importantly, your actions at the scene may save lives.
So, what should you do after a San Diego Accident? First, let’s start with what you should NOT do.
- Don’t discuss fault. An admission of fault can compromise your personal injury claim.
- Don’t deny any injuries you may have suffered. You may want to “tough it out” and say you’re fine, when you actually have a serious injury. Insurance companies will use any of these statements to deny your claim or reduce your settlement later on.
- Don’t give ANY statement to the other person’s insurance company. If you are contacted by the other person’s insurance company, decline to comment. Insurance companies often try to “put words in your mouth” or twist your story. Attorney Ronald B. Laba can contact that insurance company on your behalf.
- Don’t overstate your injuries. But don’t understate them either. The insurance company will investigate your injuries so it is important that you be reasonably accurate about describing your condition.
- Don’t argue with other drivers and passengers. Save your story for the police and your insurance company.
- Don’t sign statements regarding fault or promises to pay for damage.
- If another party offers to pay your deductible, don’t sign anything releasing him or her from further responsibility. By releasing the other party, you jeopardize your insurance company’s subrogation right, and the company may refuse to pay for damage to your car.
Now, here’s what you SHOULD DO after an accident:
- Protect yourself and others. If you are able to do so, get out of danger. If you were in a car accident, if possible get everyone out of the vehicle and to a safe location.
- Contact emergency personnel. Call 911. Tell the dispatcher you’ve been in an accident and tell him or her if someone is hurt. Don’t hang up until the dispatcher has all of the vital information and says it’s OK to hang up.
- Write down or record details of the accident. This includes facts such as time, date, weather conditions, as well as any statements you hear from witnesses. Draw a diagram of the accident events and scene.
- Obtain names, addresses, telephone numbers and driver’s license numbers from all drivers. Obtain license plate(s) and vehicle identification numbers. Ask to see driver’s license(s) and vehicle registration(s) to verify that the information is accurate.
- Obtain names, addresses, and telephone numbers of other passengers and any witnesses.
- Photograph the accident scene. Use your cell phone camera, if you have one, to take pictures or video of the accident scene. Take pictures of the damage to both vehicles, the position of the cars, traffic controls, visual impairments and any visible injuries. The photos you take of any accident scene involving personal injury can prove valuable later when pursuing a personal injury claim.
- Visit a doctor if you’re injured. Even if you think your injury is minor, it’s important to get a thorough checkup.
- Notify your agent and/or your own insurance company immediately – even if it wasn’t your fault. Most policies require you to report any vehicle accidents. You can provide the facts of the accident, but there is no need to discuss fault.
- Notify the DMV. Regardless of fault, if anyone is injured or the vehicle damage exceeds $750, you must report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. The name of the form you must fill out is an SR-1. Failure to notify the DMV may result in the suspension of your driver’s license. You can fill out and file the form at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/forms/sr/sr1.pdf.
- Talk to an experienced attorney and find out your legal options and how best to proceed.
Contact attorney Ronald B. Laba today
Most people don’t get help because they get bad advice from insurance companies, or are afraid, intimidated or confused. Don’t let that happen to you. In this day and age, we have found that doing nothing is one of the worst things you can do. To help you figure out what to do next, the Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba has uncovered five secrets to help personal injury and accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve for their accident