After an auto accident, it is essential to take every step possible to make sure that the crash is well-documented. However, the moments after a collision are often chaotic and disturbing and one’s initial response is usually a mix of emotions such as anger and fear. It is important not to let these feelings deter you from focusing on gathering information. By concentrating on compiling the necessary details, the outcome of the insurance claim or lawsuit that lies ahead will be improved.
Document Your Crash With a Convenient Checklist
To make sure you have it when you need it, download and print our auto accident checklist and keep in your vehicle or use it directly from your smartphone.
David Azizi, a prominent auto accident lawyer in Los Angeles, has developed an app you can download to your smartphone. It is free to download this convenient checklist and it helps you protect yourself both legally and financially.
Important Steps You Need to Take After an Auto Accident
There are important steps you need to take in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Failing to do this can result in missing information that may not easily be reclaimed. Since proof of negligence on the part of the at-fault party is essential to your case, waiting too long after an accident can result in a lesser outcome. Let’s look at some of the steps that need to be taken.
Take Care of Injuries
The first thing you need to do is to check to see if you or someone else in your vehicle has been injured. If you can without endangering yourself, check on individuals in the other car too. Don’t try to move someone who is critically injured. Call 911 for help instead.
Call the Police
If someone, including yourself, was injured in the crash, call the police. This is not a suggestion. In California, it is mandatory that you call the police if someone is injured or killed or if the property damage was $1,000 or more, according to Vehicle Code 20000 to 20018. Since it is difficult to put a price tag on property damage in the field, it is always best to report the accident. The responding law enforcement officers will file a police report, which details the placement of vehicles, how the accident happened, its location and who was at fault.
On occasion, the officer will issue a citation to the at-fault driver, the existence of which will help your attorney prove negligence on the defendant’s part. It is important to obtain a copy of the report as soon as possible. Ask the officer for their name and badge number and the identifying number of the report to make retrieval easier.
Make It Easy for Other Motorists to Know an Accident Has Happened
One of the major causes of car accidents, particularly on highways, is that other motorists are unaware an accident has occurred. Because of this, motorists might not be prepared to change lanes or slow down, and this can result in additional collisions. If you have flashers in your vehicle, put them on to notify others that your vehicle is disabled. At the very least, put your flashers on and hang a white or colored cloth out of the side window or tie it to the antenna. When you leave your vehicle, do so from the side nearest the shoulder of the road.
Don’t Leave the Scene of the Accident
Leaving the scene of an accident, no matter how minor, is illegal and carries heavy penalties. It is necessary to stop, exchange contact and insurance information and wait for the police to arrive if they have been called. If someone is hurt in the accident, call 911 for assistance.
Hitting a Stationary Object
If you hit a stationary object such as a parked car and the owner is not available, leave your information on a piece of paper under the windshield wiper. If you leave without doing this, it could be misconstrued as a hit and run. When you can, it is best to notify the police that you hit the object. If an animal ran out into your path and it was injured, you have a responsibility not to leave it there to suffer. Call the police or the humane society, and let them know where the accident occurred.
Other Information You Need to Acquire
There is a great deal of information at the accident site. Since vehicles are cleared from the scene to allow traffic flow to resume, you have little time to collect as much data as you can. Here are some of the things you need to do:
- Trade information with other drivers: It is important to obtain contact and insurance information from other drivers and provide yours. Don’t intimate that you caused the accident by apologizing for the person’s damages. This is often a knee-jerk reaction to someone else’s pain, but it can come back to haunt you.
- Call your attorney: Let your attorney know that you were in an accident. He or she may come to the accident site or send an investigator to gather information. Using an app such as that provided by David Azizi makes it easy to get in touch with your lawyer on the spot.
- Accumulate damage documentation: Use your cell phone to document any vehicular damage. It is important to take pictures of signage that might be pertinent to the collision. For instance, notices to slow down for a four-way stop or announcement of a curve ahead. Take photos of road conditions. This applies to slippery surfaces due to inclement weather as well as debris on the road or potholes. If prominent signage is missing or adverse road conditions exist, you can also file a claim against the city or state government in charge of road maintenance.
- Injuries: It is essential to document personal injuries as well as damage to your vehicle. Take pictures of your injuries when you arrive home or at the hospital. Make sure to tell your doctor about any injuries you have, so he or she can put them in the medical record. After an accident, it is not a good idea to try and tough it out. The cost of medical services can reach astronomical amounts, depending on the type of injury you have.
What an Auto Accident Lawyer Can Do for You
Not all accidents need the services of a lawyer, but it is difficult to know where to draw the line. Even if the accident seems minor, the cost of repairs to property and payment for medical issues can be high. Sometimes, what appears to be a low-level injury can develop into a more serious one after the accident. Besides, some injuries take 24 to 72 hours to exhibit symptoms.
A car accident lawyer will review your case to determine the extent of legal issues he or she must address. The attorney or his investigators will visit the accident site and use reconstructionist technology to get a picture of how the accident happened. Witnesses will also provide information, and storefront or traffic video cams might have digitally captured the accident.
Beyond gathering evidence, the attorney will review police reports for inaccuracies and negotiate with the insurance company to ensure that a settlement is just and protect your rights as a plaintiff. In the event the insurer reneges on their responsibility, the lawyer will take the case to civil court.
Call Upon Los Angeles Auto Accident Attorney David Azizi
David Azizi is a strong advocate for his clients, protecting them from devious methods used by insurers to underpay them for their injuries. He has practiced personal injury law for the extent of his career, and he knows all the tricks that insurers use. He has been called one of the top personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles by Super Lawyers, a well-known legal ranking service. If you’ve suffered injuries due to the behavior of a negligent driver or a governmental agency, call David at (800) 991-5292 to set up a free case review. You’ll never pay David a thing until your case is won.