The decisions you make in the minutes, hours and days after an automobile accident can affect the rest of your life. If you have been involved in a car accident that is the fault of another driver, there are many important steps you must take to protect yourself legally, establish the facts in your case, and ensure you get the full compensation you deserve for your pain, suffering and financial losses.
Before the Accident
An automobile accident can happen at any time, when you least expect it. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for the worst:
- Maintain your vehicle.
- Check your brakes and tires regularly along with safety features like seat belts and air bags.
- Keep your vehicle clean and clear of loose objects that could fly around during an accident.
- Always take your phone with you.
- And finally, make sure you have easy access to important documents like your driver’s license, auto insurance policy information, health insurance information and vehicle registration.
What to Do Immediately after a Car Accident
There are important steps to take immediately following your accident:
- Don’t leave the scene.
- Call 911 to report the accident and summon emergency assistance.
- Check on the conditions of the other drivers and passengers involved if you’re able.
- Exchange and gather information. You will want to get: Driver and passenger names and contact information; Driver’s license numbers; License plate numbers; Auto insurance information; Names and contact information of witnesses; Names and badge numbers of the responding officers.
- Take pictures of the accident scene.
- File an accident report.
- Don’t accept or assign blame for the accident. The insurance companies and courts will make this determination.
- Don’t agree to make a settlement on the spot.
The above steps mostly apply to accidents involving another vehicle where the other driver is present. If you have hit a parked vehicle, take reasonable steps to locate the owner or driver. Leave a note attached to the windshield with your name, contact information and insurance information if you are unable to locate them.
The Next Day(s) Following the Accident
No matter how you feel, seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident. Even if you seem unharmed, you should still get checked out by a doctor because symptoms of automobile accident related injuries such as whiplash can sometimes take days to be felt. Keep record of all your medical expenses, and follow through with any prescribed medical treatment and follow up doctor visits.
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. They will be helpful in explaining the steps you need to take to file your claim and get your car repaired.
Questions about Car Accidents in California
You should always contact law enforcement after an accident, after ensuring that all those involved in the accident receive the medical attention they need. Your police report will provide an impartial and official record of the incident that can be used to support any personal injury lawsuit you may file down the road, such as the name and insurance information of the other driver, details of the crash scene, citations issued, etc.
It’s important to understand that determining fault in a car accident isn’t always cut and dry. Even if you feel your actions contributed to the accident, there may be many other factors at play that were outside your control. It is important to speak to an attorney about what happened before you admit liability.
California courts apply the rule of comparative negligence or comparative fault in auto accident cases. That means a judge or jury examines the evidence presented to determine the degree or percentage of negligence each party shared in the accident. The degree to which you are found liable for the accident will have a big impact on how much compensation you can collect for your injuries.
How much compensation you may recover for a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence depends upon a lot of factors. Because the facts in every case are different, there is no quick or easy “average settlement” amount.
One of the biggest factors in getting the compensation you deserve is having help from an experienced Manhattan Beach car accident attorney.
Talk to an Experienced Manhattan Beach Car Accident Attorney
If you were involved in an automobile accident that was the fault of another driver, you should speak with an experienced auto accident lawyer before agreeing to accept a settlement offer from the insurance company.
The Law Offices of Scott Dinsmore, APC have been successfully representing clients in Manhattan Beach, Gardena, Hawthorne and surrounding communities for over 30 years. Our Manhattan Beach personal injury attorneys are eager to discuss the details of your case. Call us today at (310) 318-1220 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
We handle all our cases on a contingency basis. There are no upfront costs and we only collect our fee after you win your case.