There are not many worse feelings than those you will experience immediately after a car accident. Even if you are fortunate enough to not have sustained any injuries, it is normal to feel confusion, anxiety and stress. Right after the car accident, you don't even know if you will be making a claim.
If there no injuries, it's still important to obtain information from the other driver, regardless of whom you may believe was at fault for the car collision.
It's fairly standard knowledge that you should get the name, address, phone number, and the insurance policy information of the other driver. If the other driver claims they don't have car insurance, you should write down license plate number and the vehicle identification number (VIN) of their vehicle, which is typically located on the car dashboard, right above the steering wheel.
It's also important to make note of the year, make, model and color of the vehicle, along with specific location of damage to your vehicle.
However, when you have been injured in a car accident in Los Angeles County that was caused by the negligent or reckless conduct of another party, you have a legal right to be “made whole,” meaning to put you in the same place before the accident occurred.
This compensation will typically come from a settlement of your car accident claim with the at-fault party's insurance company.
However, just because you have the legal right to compensation for your injuries and any property damage, it in no way means it's an automatic process to be made whole. In order to make sure you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve, you need to take several important steps to protect your case and legal rights. Protecting your legal rights will normally come down to 3 things: documentation, patience, and hiring the right lawyer.
Settling a car accident claim without pursuing formal litigation can often become a challenge, but when you have sufficient support for your car accident claim, patience and persistence, your car accident lawyer can normally negotiate a fair resolution to your car accident case. T
here are certain things you need to do at the scene of the car accident in order to protect your legal rights. Below is a guide to help you.
Documentation of the Car Accident Scene
Properly documenting the scene of the car accident immediately after it occurred is very important. Here is a guideline to assist you in documenting the car accident scene:
Call the police – Immediately after the accident, it's important that you don't admit fault. Call the police so they can take statements, collect evidence, interview witnesses, and prepare a formal report.
Clearly, an ambulance should be called if there are injuries. Having the police involved adds an important layer of documentation for your claim. The police report will carry significant weight with an insurance company as it's considered an unbiased opinion.
In some car accident cases, the at-fault driver may attempt to keep the police out of the situation. You should not be persuaded from calling the police. If you sustained any type of injury, even though it may seem minor, call the police.
Other than helping yourself or the other driver with injuries, your top priority should be to protect your legal rights and preparing your future claim. The police report will provide critical documentation of the car accident scene, and will frequently include evidence of fault.
Take notes at the scene of the car accident – Even though you will most likely feel a bit confused immediately after the accident, it's important to remember that you will need to gather some information to support your claim.
This includes writing down specific information at the scene of the car accident. This type of information will assist your insurance claims adjuster review your case, and can be critical later if your case ends up in court. It's important to note that many months could pass between the time of the accident and any settlement of your car accident claim.
The passage of time means you could forget important details. Any notes you make will improve your memory. The notes you should take at the accident scene include:
- Your story on what happened
- What factors caused the accident
- Who was the driver of the other vehicle, and any passengers
- The speed you were driving when the accident occurred
- Whether you noticed if there were distractions, such as talking on a cell phone
- Weather and road conditions at the time of the accident
- Whether there were witnesses to the car accident
- The other driver's name and car insurance information
Remember, if you take the necessary time to take notes of as much as you can about the scene and the moments leading up to the accident, it could be a key factor in winning your claim later.
Take photographs at the scene of the car accident – You should take pictures of the accident scene, including the damage to your car, the other driver's vehicle, and any injuries you have sustained.
Pictures can make your claim much stronger and can assist you later in receiving fair compensation for your losses. Use your cell phone or a camera. You should get photos of all exterior damages from different angles and the position of each vehicle at the car accident scene.
Be sure to include street signs, skid marks, street signals, and stop signs, if they were a contributing factor. Additionally, take a picture of the other driver's license plate.
Talk to eye witnesses – If there were witnesses, you should obtain as much information as possible.
This would include all their contact information and ask them if they would be willing to provide a statement later. You should determine what exactly they observed. Their information could make your claim much stronger.
Seek Medical Treatment
If you were injured in the car accident, seek out medical attention as soon as possible. The treatment records, notes from a doctor, and medical expenses are solid evidence of your injuries and the financial harm it has caused. These records provide information that is difficult to challenge by an insurance company. Be sure to follow the doctor's recommendations.
Patience and Persistent
Typically, insurance adjusters are handling hundreds of claims at the same time. Your claim is not their top priority. It's not uncommon for a personal injury claim to take several months before a resolution is reached, especially in cases where you may have sustained serious injuries.
Dealing with an insurance company will normally take patience and persistence. Don't be afraid to make follow up calls, but don't call excessively. Stay professional, but firm. In the end, it's in your best interest to remain patient and not give the insurance company any reason to lowball, or deny your claim.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
In some car accident cases, patience and persistence don't always work out as expected. If you have any reason to believe the insurance company is attempting to lowball or deny your claim, you should contact a Los Angels car accident attorney at our law firm immediately.
When an insurance adjuster knows a lawyer is involved, they will often change their tune. Hiring the right personal injury lawyer to handle your claim could be the most important factor to protect your legal rights and obtaining the maximum compensation you are entitled.
It's a common occurrence for certain insurance adjusters to deliberately delay or deny payment of a personal injury claim. Once you have an experienced lawyer on your side, the insurance adjuster is less likely to use their common tactics.
You first step is to let our car accident attorneys review the details of your car accident to determine your legal options. Call our law firm at 310-734-7974.