No matter how careful a driver you are, there’s always a chance that you could be involved in a car accident. Whether it’s just a prang or a more serious accident, you’re likely to be extremely shaken afterwards but it’s important that you takes steps to protect yourself and prepare for any future claims that could arise from the incident.
1. Check for Injuries
First and foremost, you’ll need to determine if there are any injuries either in your party or theirs. Make sure that the cars are not in a dangerous position, for example around a bend, where they could cause further accidents. Attend to injuries or call an ambulance to assist. In the case of severe trauma, remember not to move someone unless absolutely necessary as they may have a spinal injury.
2. Call the Police
Even if it’s a minor incident, you’ll need a police report for any future claims you make. It’s helpful to have official documentation to record the details.
3. Write Down the Facts
This is the most important part of documenting the process. Write down what happened exactly as you recall it in as much detail as you can. Take down names, contact details, a description of the car, licence plate, drivers’ licence, vehicle identification number and the other party’s insurance company details.
It’s particularly helpful if you take pictures of everything including the road and surroundings as well as the cars and positioning to corroborate your story. Use the camera on your phone if necessary! If you don’t have a camera, draw a diagram to document the incident.
4. Call the Insurance Company
Do this as soon as possible. Ask the police if it would help for them to speak to the insurance agent. Make sure you take down details of which officers you spoke with and when you can obtain a copy of the report. It’s important that you file details of the accident with your insurance company in case the other party decides to make claims against you.
5. Call Your Lawyer
This is necessary if you intend to make claims for compensation, for example, if you have been injured in the accident. It’s also necessary if the other party decides to bring a lawsuit against you. You shouldn’t assume that just because they seemed fine after the accident that they won’t lodge a claim, just the same way that you shouldn’t assume that because you feel fine that you haven’t injured something.
Lawsuits can be messy but if you have been injured, it can be necessary as a way of obtaining compensation. Finding an attorney can be an arduous task. You want to consider a firm that specialises in personal injury claims as these will have the requisite experience to guide you through the process. You can also look for ‘no win, no fee’ practices if you cannot afford upfront legal costs.
Kahmen Lee is a freelance writer who has worked with many legal firms. She hopes to educate people on accident protocol and the best ways to find a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles.