Accidents are an unfortunate fact of life and they happen to all of us, when least expected. The crucial question is how to deal with it best, despite pain and many other challenges?
Here are the steps you should take to make the best out of a bad situation:
1) Never leave the scene of the accident:
When you are involved in an accident, even if it is a minor fender bender, never leave the scene of the accident, without proper contact. If you do, in most jurisdictions you could be charged with the crime of Hit and Run. In California hit and run crime is codified under Vehicle Code 20002.
2) Keep the Scene of Accident Safe:
When you are involved in an accident, if it is safe set up flares, and keep your flashers on. It is essential that the vehicles involved in an accident remain where the accident occurred, unless they interfere with the flow of traffic, etc.
3) Call the Police:
Even if there is no serious injury, you should call the police. A police report may be needed to file a claim for damages with your insurance company.
4) Make a True Record of the Accident:
We all know that it is hard to be all yourself, when involved in an accident, but you can tell the investigating police officer exactly what happened, to the best of your knowledge. Do not guess or speculate. Remember many soft tissue injuries are not shown right away. You could feel the symptoms of an injury or even pain hours or even days later.
5) Take Photos of the Accident, if Safe:
These days, we all have smart phones equipped with great cameras. However, make sure you do not interfere with the investigating authorities. If you have no way to take photos at the scene of accident, you should do it as soon as you can. You should take photos of your own injuries, your passengers, if any and your property damages, i.e. your vehicle.
6) Exchange Insurance and Contact Information:
Generally, the police include the insurance and contact information in their reports. However, if the police does not respond, you should exchange names, address, phone numbers of all injured parties including passengers, witnesses and write down the vehicles' License Plate info. If the police show up and prepare a report, the investigating officer, usually, will hand you a police report number. Make sure you keep it safe, so you or your attorney can procure a copy of the report later.
7) Call Your Insurance Company:
Some insurance policies require that you report an accident right away. Make sure you report the accident. However, you should remember that insurance companies keep a record of your statements and could use them against you. So you may want to contact a Competent Injury Lawyer right away to know your rights and obligations, even before contacting your insurance company.
8) Seek Medical Attention right away:
As mentioned above, most injuries may take some time to show up. Unless, you are certain that you are not injured, if someone asks you at the scene of an accident or later whether you are injured: you should NOT say NO! You should never take a chance with your health. After all, your health is your life!
9) Keep a Record of Accident Related Documents:
Make sure, you put all your accident related documents, photographs, claim numbers, police report, insurance policy, claim adjuster's documents, rental costs, repair costs, medical costs, etc.
10) Know Your Rights and Duties, Right Away:
By no stretch of imagination, the most important thing you should do after an accident is to talk to a Highly Competent, Credible and Compassionate Accident Lawyer and do it before you make damaging statements to your insurance company.
Despite all those emotionally charged TV Commercials that claim: “you are in good hands” or they are progressively willing to bend over backward to help you or that it is so easy that a caveman could deal with them, etc., dealing with Insurance Industry requires a lot of skills, experience, hard work and smart planning. If you are Seriously Injured, taking on the multibillion dollars Insurance Corporations and their intimidating Power-Lawyers on your own is neither easy nor wise. That is because the insurance corporation's interest and your interest are NOT the same! They would do anything to defend, delay or deny your claim!
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