Thousands of car accidents occur in California every year. As a California resident, it is highly likely that you will find yourself in the unfortunate position of being involved in a car wreck at some point.
While the moments after a car accident can be confusing, the actions you take can have a significant impact on your claim. By avoiding these seven things you should never do after a car accident, you can protect your right to pursue fair compensation.
1. Leave the Scene Before Reporting the Accident
The California Department of Motor Vehicles explains that a driver is required to report any accident that involves:
- Property damage in excess of $1,000
It is also important for you to report the accident so that authorities can make a record of it. You may need to provide this report to the insurance company. Additionally, if you are injured, you can call 911 to request an ambulance.
The responding law enforcement officer may complete an investigation into the crash, get the other driver’s information, observe road conditions, issue a citation to the at-fault party, and make a preliminary determination of fault.
2. Fail to Obtain the Other Driver’s Information
If you are involved in an accident with another motorist, take time to collect identifying information about them and their vehicle, such as their:
- Phone number
- Make, model and year of their car
- License plate number
- Driver’s license number
- Registration number
- Insurance information
While you’re at it, also get the names and contact information for any witnesses. These witnesses may be able to verify your account of the accident.
3. Underestimate Your Injuries
Many people initially walk away from an accident thinking that they were not injured. However, adrenaline can often mask signs of injury. Within a few hours or days after the accident, an accident victim may begin experiencing symptoms of injury, such as:
- Soreness or tenderness
- Neck or back pain
- Pain when moving certain areas of the body
- Nausea or vomiting
- Problems concentrating or remembering
If you were injured in an accident, it is important to seek prompt medical attention. Then, carefully follow your doctor’s orders. If you fail to seek medical attention, your injuries could get worse.
It could also hurt your injury claim. The insurance company may accuse you of failing to mitigate your damages or argue the accident didn’t cause your injuries.
4. Fail to Gather Evidence
Because car accident debris can be dangerous for other motorists, the scene may be cleaned up quickly after a crash occurs. This gives accident victims minimal time to try to document the scene.
However, if possible, accident victims can use their cell phone camera to take pictures of:
- Damage to both vehicles
- Road and weather conditions
- Any nearby traffic signs that may apply to the situation
- Physical damage to nearby property, tire treads, or skid marks
- Witness contact information
- Wide angles of the accident scene
Obtaining as much information about the accident as soon as possible can be crucial evidence to the resolution of your case.
Trying to be polite, many people will apologize after an accident. However, the insurance company may try to twist your words and allege that you were admitting fault for the accident by simply saying, “I’m sorry.” For this reason, keep statements to the police brief and only talk to the other motorist to check on their health and to get their information.
6. Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company
A common trick insurance companies play is to tell an accident victim that they need a recorded statement to resolve the claim. However, they are only trying to get information to use against you. It is best to consult with a personal injury lawyer and refer the insurance company to them instead.
7. Not Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience. You do not need to try to deal with recuperating from your injuries and an insurance claim at the same time. You also want to make sure you’re getting as much compensation as possible for your injury claim.
That’s why it’s always best to hire a car accident attorney after a crash in California. They can help you maximize the value of your damages and protect your rights throughout your case.